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Paediatr Anaesth. 2004 Apr;14(4):299-307.

Providing parents with information before anaesthesia: what do they really want to know?

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Department of Anaesthesia, University Hospital Maastrichet, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Videotapes presenting information concerning children's anaesthesia are often based on what the makers of the videotape believe the parents want to know rather than what parents actually want to know. They frequently do not take into account the parent's coping style. Two common parental coping styles are information-seeking (monitoring) and information-avoiding (blunting).


We wished to take parent needs into account when making our local videotape and accordingly constructed a questionnaire designed to elicit these needs.


Of the parents questioned, 55% wanted more extensive preoperative information and 41% of parents wanted a videotape as part of this preparation. Information about premedication, induction of anaesthesia, side-effects of anaesthesia and postoperative pain management were sought by more than 70% of parents. Parents had concerns about induction of anaesthesia, emergence from anaesthesia and postoperative pain and nausea. When asked a question concerning preference about being present at the induction of anaesthesia, 90% of parents wanted to be present at the induction and 75% of parents thought that their child should receive a premedicant. The number of parents requesting to be present at the induction decreased to 72% after an explanation about the purpose and effects of premedication. There was no correlation between the coping style of the parent and the responses given to the questions. There was no correlation between the level of education and the coping style of the parent.


The use of a questionnaire of parental attitudes towards information and anaesthesia provided a useful tool in the production of a video as part of our preoperative preparation. Our videotape has proved a success with staff and parents and children and enhances the quality of our service. Its popularity stems from the fact that it addresses what the parents want to know and also conveys what the staff of this hospital would like the parents to know.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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