Cartoons have analgesic effects

Like many parents, you probably look forward to your child’s next vaccination with great apprehension. He simply dislikes needles, as much as you probably do. Many health professionals worry about the well being of our children and are looking, in their own manner, for ways to distract them in order to minimize the discomfort associated with injections and blood-tests. An Italian paediatrics group might have found an original way to achieve this goal. Mickey Mouse and his friends were of great help!

Like many parents, you probably look forward to your child’s next vaccination with great apprehension. He simply dislikes needles, as much as you probably do. Many health professionals worry about the well being of our children and are looking, in their own manner, for ways to distract them in order to minimize the discomfort associated with injections and blood-tests. An Italian paediatrics group might have found an original way to achieve this goal. Mickey Mouse and his friends were of great help!

Doctors evaluated the pain experienced by 69 children between the ages of 7 and 12, during a blood-test. They randomly separated the children in three groups: a control group where children were alone with a doctor or a nurse during the procedure, a group where children were passively distracted by watching cartoons during the procedure and a third that were actively distracted by their mothers. Researchers then asked the children and their mothers to separately evaluate the intensity of the pain experienced.

The children who were part of the control group reported the highest level of pain during the blood-test, followed by the children who were distracted by their mothers. The children who were watching cartoons had twice less pain than the others. As for the mothers, they evaluated that the pain felt by their child was more intense when they were with them during the procedure. According to the mothers’ point of view, the fact that their child was alone with the doctor did not seem less painful for the child. They also evaluated that the pain was less intense if the child was watching television.

Watching cartoons therefore seems to make blood-tests or injections easier on children, even more than a maternal presence. Researchers explain this phenomenon by the distracting power of television or the children’s sensitivity to their mother’s emotions. We can observe the same reactions, within limits, in children receiving cancer treatments. Zootherapy, practiced in some hospitals, has positive effects on children’s pain threshold and their capacity to endure strenuous treatments.

Children fear pain, even during minor examinations. It represents a great source of stress for them. This study could give new ideas to health professionals on how to distract children during medical procedures.

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