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J Pediatr Psychol. 1991 Aug;16(4):489-504.

Preparation of children for emergency medical care: a primary prevention approach.

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Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence 66045-2160.


Increased emergency room use and the resulting rise in pediatric visits have prompted interest in psychological aspects of pediatric emergency care. This study evaluated the efficacy of a multicomponent hospital program designed to prepare children for emergency room visits. In Phase 1, 148 kindergarteners completed measures of medical fears and knowledge at pretreatment, posttreatment, and a 4-week follow-up. Program attenders had significantly fewer medical fears and higher medical knowledge at posttest and follow-up than control children. The program was more effective for black than white children. In Phase 2, 51 high-fear children from Phase 1 were selected randomly to attend a medical examination in an emergency room. No effects for program emerged on the observational distress measures or physiological arousal. Phase 2 children showed significantly increased medical knowledge at follow-up compared to children who did not receive the medical exam.

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