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Hosp Pediatr. 2019 Dec;9(12):942-948. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2019-0212. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

A Magic Therapy Program to Alleviate Anxiety in Pediatric Inpatients.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York; and
Department of Pediatrics, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York; and.
Child Life Program and.
Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine and.
Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook Children's, Stony Brook, New York.



Hospitalization generates increased psychological discomfort for children and their caregivers. This anxiety can affect the patient-caretaker response to the health care team and the course of treatment. We aim to evaluate the impacts of a magic therapy program, organized and facilitated by medical students, on alleviating pediatric inpatient and caregiver anxiety.


Patients aged 5 to 16 years admitted to an inpatient pediatric unit and their caregivers were eligible for inclusion. Patient-caregiver pairs were randomly assigned to a magic therapy intervention group or a control group. Anxiety was measured before and after the intervention by using validated self-report tools. The Facial Image Scale and Venham Picture Test were used to measure anxiety for young patients, the short State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Facial Image Scale were used for older patients, and the short State-Trait Inventory was used for caregivers. A subset of the intervention group was reevaluated at 1 hour posttherapy. Health professionals were also surveyed regarding their opinions of the program.


One hundred patients and 90 caregivers were enrolled. The patient magic group's standardized anxiety was reduced by 25% (n = 47; P < .001) posttherapy. The caregiver magic group's anxiety was reduced by 24% (n = 34; P < .001). Data suggest that anxiety reductions lasted through at least 1 hour posttherapy. Physicians (n = 9), nurses (n = 8), and pediatric residents (n = 20) supported program continuance, reported favorable impressions, and suggested patient, caregiver, and staff benefits.


Integration of a magic therapy program into pediatric inpatient care was feasible and successful in decreasing patient and caretaker anxiety. Health care professionals support the program's continuance.


Conflict of interest statement

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Beyond the authors’ personal involvements in the development of the MagicAid curriculum and founding of the nonprofit organization, as mentioned in the text, the authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. No authors are financially compensated by MagicAid Inc.

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