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J Pediatr Health Care. 2015 May-Jun;29(3):265-73. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2014.12.006. Epub 2015 Jan 24.

The Effect of Directed Medical Play on Young Children's Pain and Distress During Burn Wound Care.


Directed medical play is used to reduce children's pain and distress during medical treatment. In this pilot study, young children who attended the burn clinic received either directed medical play provided by a child life specialist or standard preparation from the burn clinic nurse to prepare for their first dressing change. Data were collected using validated instruments. Children who participated in medical play experienced less distress during their dressing change (M = 0.5, n = 12) than did those receiving standard preparation (M = 2.0, n = 9). Children who received standard care reported a 2-point increase in pain during the procedure, whereas children who participated in medical play reported a 1-point increase. Change in parental anxiety was similar for both groups. Parent satisfaction was higher for caregivers who observed medical play than standard preparation. Although all findings were in the hypothesized direction, none was statically significant, most likely because of the small sample size.


Medical play; pediatrics; procedural distress; young children

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