Children Listening to Music or Watching Cartoons during ER Procedures: A RCT

Marianne J. E. van der Heijden, Hiske Mevius, Nicky van der Heijde, Joost van Rosmalen, Sebastian van As, Monique van DIjk

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Objective: This study aims to determine if listening to music and watching cartoons are effective to distract children from pain and distress during procedures in the emergency room (ER). Methods: This study is a single-center, 3-armed, superiority randomized controlled trial comparing listening to music, watching cartoons, and standard care during ER procedures in children aged 3-13 years. The primary outcome was pain measured from video footage with the Alder Hey Triage Pain Score (AHTPS). Children older than 4 years self-reported pain with the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R). The secondary outcome was distress measured with the Observational Scale of Behavioral Distress-revised (OSBD-r). Another indicator of distress was heart rate. Results: Data of 191 participants were analyzed for the 3 groups: music (n = 75), cartoon (n = 62), and control (n = 54). The median age was 7.3 years (4.9-9.7). In multivariable analysis, pain assessed with the AHTPS was significantly lower (B = -1.173, 95% confidence interval -1.953, -0.394, p =. 003) in the music group than in the control groups. Across the 3 groups, 108 children self-reported pain with the FPS-R after the procedure. The scores were lowest in the music group, but the differences between groups were not significant (p =. 077). OSBD-r distress scores assigned during the procedures were not significantly different between the 3 groups (p =. 55). Heart rate directly after the procedure was not statistically significantly different between the 3 groups (p =. 83). Conclusions: Listening to recorded music is a beneficial distraction for children experiencing pain during ER procedures, whereas watching cartoons did not seem to reduce pain or distress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1162
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

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