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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2018 Nov 12. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001626. [Epub ahead of print]

Tablet Computer as a Distraction Tool During Facial Laceration Repair: A Randomized Trial.



Child life interventions reduce the anxiety of medical procedures but are not always available in emergency departments. In this study, we determined the effect of parent-directed tablet computer use without child life direction on patient anxiety and on parent and suturing clinician experience during pediatric facial laceration repair.


In a children's hospital emergency department, we enrolled children 2 to 12 years of age undergoing unsedated facial laceration repairs and randomized them to parent-directed tablet computer distraction or standard supportive care. We measured anxiety using the Observational Scale of Behavioral Distress-Revised (OSBD-R) for 5 procedure phases from videotaped laceration repairs. We compared OSBD-R scores for 5 phases and weighted averages between the tablet and standard care groups. Parents and suturing clinicians completed surveys about their experiences after the procedures.


From April 2014 to July 2015, 77 patients (39 tablet, 38 standard) underwent repairs. Age, use of restraint, procedure duration, and number of sutures were similar between the 2 groups. The groups did not differ in procedure phase or weighted-average OSBD-R scores. Parents in the tablet group reported less personal anxiety compared with parents in the standard group (P = 0.01). In a post hoc subgroup analysis, subjects in the unrestrained tablet group had lower OSBD-R scores during the anesthetic injection phase than did subjects in the unrestrained standard group (P = 0.04). If restrained, subjects in the tablet group had higher OSBD-R scores during the anesthetic injection phase than did subjects in the standard group (P = 0.048).


Unrestrained children may benefit from parent-directed tablet computer distraction. Parents who operate the device are less anxious during their children's procedures.

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