Utilizing distraction strategies to relieve pain and distress in children undergoing medical procedures : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Attention diversion or distraction is a strategy which has been shown to be effective and safe in the control of pain and distress. The purpose of the present study was to assess the utility of distraction in reducing children's '"pain and distress during medical procedures. The study was divided into two experiments. The first experiment involved eight oncology patients ranging in age from 2.5 to 4.5 years. Three conditions, baseline, brief film, short story, were delivered in a randomized counterbalanced sequence. The second experiment involved three oncology patients ranging in age from
6.5 to eleven years. A single case design was used to assess the efficacy of video games as distractors during painful medical procedures. The dependent measures for both experiments included observer ratings of behavioural distress scored on the Observational Scale of Behavioural Distress (OSBD) as well as overall ratings of behavioural distress and self reported pain ratings from the children in experiment two.
Results showed that in experiment one both distractors were attended to. Statistically
significant reductions in observed distress were found with the short story condition. In experiment two the video game produced high levels of attention diversion which had an observable effect on behaviour. The results are discussed in relation to the sensitivity of the measures and the reason for the efficacy of the short story in experiment one.