Children Listening to Music or Watching Cartoons During ER Procedures: A RCT


Journal of Pediatric Psychology




OBJECTIVE: This study aims to determine if listening to music and watching cartoons are effective to distract children from pain and distress during procedures in the emergency room (ER). METHODS: This study is a single-center, 3-armed, superiority randomized controlled trial comparing listening to music, watching cartoons, and standard care during ER procedures in children aged 3-13?years. The primary outcome was pain measured from video footage with the Alder Hey Triage Pain Score (AHTPS). Children older than 4 years self-reported pain with the Faces Pain Scale-Revised (FPS-R). The secondary outcome was distress measured with the Observational Scale of Behavioral Distress-revised (OSBD-r). Another indicator of distress was heart rate. RESULTS: Data of 191 participants were analyzed for the 3 groups: music (n?=?75), cartoon (n?=?62), and control (n?=?54). The median age was 7.3?years (4.9-9.7). In multivariable analysis, pain assessed with the AHTPS was significantly lower (B = -1.173, 95% confidence interval -1.953, -0.394, p?=?.003) in the music group than in the control groups. Across the 3 groups, 108 children self-reported pain with the FPS-R after the procedure. The scores were lowest in the music group, but the differences between groups were not significant (p?=?.077). OSBD-r distress scores assigned during the procedures were not significantly different between the 3 groups (p?=?.55). Heart rate directly after the procedure was not statistically significantly different between the 3 groups (p?=?.83). CONCLUSIONS: Listening to recorded music is a beneficial distraction for children experiencing pain during ER procedures, whereas watching cartoons did not seem to reduce pain or distress.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adolescents; Children; Distress; Emergency Department; Heart Rate; Hospital Setting; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Music as Distraction; Pain; Pain Management and Control; Pain Score or Rating; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures; Vital Signs

Indexed Terms

Adolescents; Anxiety; Attention; Children; Child, Preschool; Emergency Service, Hospital; Heart Rate; Pain Management; Pain Measurement; Procedural Pain; Self Report; cartoons; children; distraction; emergency room; procedural pain

Study Type

Quantitative Methods; Randomized Controlled Trial

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