The child's perspective on discomfort during medical research procedures: a descriptive study

Mira S. Staphorst, M.A. Benninga, Margriet Bisschoff, J. Oosterlaan, J. Passchier

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objective The evaluation of discomfort in paediatric research is scarcely evidence-based. In this study, we make a start in describing children's self-reported discomfort during common medical research procedures and compare this with discomfort during dental check-ups which can be considered as a reference level of a ‘minimal discomfort’ medical procedure. We exploratory study whether there are associations between age, anxiety-proneness, gender, medical condition, previous experiences and discomfort. We also describe children's suggestions for reducing discomfort.

Design Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Setting Paediatric research at three academic hospitals.

Patients 357 children with and without illnesses (8–18 years, mean=10.6 years) were enrolled: 307 from paediatric research studies and 50 from dental care.

Main outcome measures We measured various generic forms of discomfort (nervousness, annoyance, pain, fright, boredom, tiredness) due to six common research procedures: buccal swabs, MRI scans, pulmonary function tests, skin prick tests, ultrasound imaging and venepunctures.

Results Most children reported limited discomfort during the research procedures (means: 1–2.6 on a scale from 1 to 5). Compared with dental check-ups, buccal swab tests, skin prick tests and ultrasound imaging were less discomforting, while MRI scans, venepunctures and pulmonary function tests caused a similar degree of discomfort. 60.3% of the children suggested providing distraction by showing movies to reduce discomfort. The exploratory analyses suggested a positive association between anxiety-proneness and discomfort.

Conclusions The findings of this study support the acceptability of participation of children in the studied research procedures, which stimulates evidence-based research practice. Furthermore, the present study can be considered as a first step in providing benchmarks for discomfort of procedures in paediatric research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere016077
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Biomedical Research
Research
Pediatrics
Phlebotomy
Anxiety
Cheek
Respiratory Function Tests
Skin Tests
Ultrasonography
Tooth
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Boredom
Benchmarking
Dental Care
Evidence-Based Practice
Motion Pictures
Cross-Sectional Studies
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Pain

Cite this

Staphorst, Mira S. ; Benninga, M.A. ; Bisschoff, Margriet ; Oosterlaan, J. ; Passchier, J. / The child's perspective on discomfort during medical research procedures: a descriptive study. In: BMJ Open. 2017 ; Vol. 7, No. 7. pp. 1-9.
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The child's perspective on discomfort during medical research procedures: a descriptive study. / Staphorst, Mira S.; Benninga, M.A.; Bisschoff, Margriet; Oosterlaan, J.; Passchier, J.

In: BMJ Open, Vol. 7, No. 7, e016077, 2017, p. 1-9.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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N2 - Objective The evaluation of discomfort in paediatric research is scarcely evidence-based. In this study, we make a start in describing children's self-reported discomfort during common medical research procedures and compare this with discomfort during dental check-ups which can be considered as a reference level of a ‘minimal discomfort’ medical procedure. We exploratory study whether there are associations between age, anxiety-proneness, gender, medical condition, previous experiences and discomfort. We also describe children's suggestions for reducing discomfort.Design Cross-sectional descriptive study.Setting Paediatric research at three academic hospitals.Patients 357 children with and without illnesses (8–18 years, mean=10.6 years) were enrolled: 307 from paediatric research studies and 50 from dental care.Main outcome measures We measured various generic forms of discomfort (nervousness, annoyance, pain, fright, boredom, tiredness) due to six common research procedures: buccal swabs, MRI scans, pulmonary function tests, skin prick tests, ultrasound imaging and venepunctures.Results Most children reported limited discomfort during the research procedures (means: 1–2.6 on a scale from 1 to 5). Compared with dental check-ups, buccal swab tests, skin prick tests and ultrasound imaging were less discomforting, while MRI scans, venepunctures and pulmonary function tests caused a similar degree of discomfort. 60.3% of the children suggested providing distraction by showing movies to reduce discomfort. The exploratory analyses suggested a positive association between anxiety-proneness and discomfort.Conclusions The findings of this study support the acceptability of participation of children in the studied research procedures, which stimulates evidence-based research practice. Furthermore, the present study can be considered as a first step in providing benchmarks for discomfort of procedures in paediatric research.

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