Most children are not fully aware of the risks involved in undergoing surgery, but despite this it is common for them to feel nervous and restless during the pre-operative period. At the end of the day, this is an unfamiliar situation that can be very intimidating, especially if you have to face it alone.
This was contrasted by a study carried out at the Complutense University of Madrid where the level of anxiety was evaluated in 129 child patients between the ages of 2 and 16 who underwent major outpatient surgery. These researchers found that, as in adults, anxiety prior to surgery increases in children as the time for surgery approaches.
They experience the most stressful moment when they must separate from their parents to enter the pre-operative period. But, what would happen if parents were to accompany their children during the pre-operative period? Would the children feel calmer and more relaxed before going into surgery? Science says yes.
The effects on children of having their parents close before entering the operating room
An investigation carried out at Dartmouth College analyzed the effect of the presence of parents during the induction of anesthesia in pediatric patients just before undergoing neurosurgical intervention. The results showed that parental involvement in the procedure helped create an environment of trust and security, both in their children and in themselves, while reducing anxiety and improving the children’s experience during the medical procedure.
The researchers explained that this is due to the reassuring effect that parents often have on their children, who see them as a protective figure that provides them with support and confidence. In fact, having parents close by before undergoing surgery not only calms children but also helps them gain confidence and courage, which is reflected in a faster recovery. This was corroborated by a study carried out at the Doctor Peset University Hospital in Valencia.
In this study, in which 40 children who had to undergo ear, nose or throat surgery participated, the effect of the presence of parents during the induction of anesthesia was evaluated. For this, the researchers formed two groups: in one of them they allowed the participation of the parents during the induction of anesthesia, while in the other, the procedure was performed in the absence of the parents.
According to the results, for 65% of the children whose parents participated in the induction of anesthesia, the procedure flowed easily and there was little resistance from the children, compared to 25% of the children whose parents were absent. Furthermore, 35% of children whose parents did not participate in the procedure experienced traumatic induction. This reveals that the presence of the parents during the induction of anesthesia improves the results of the procedure, increasing its effectiveness and reducing the risk of suffering trauma, while promoting a more satisfactory post-operative recovery.