OBJECTIVE: Anxiety and pain during medical procedures may have adverse short and long-term consequences. We summarize the effectiveness of hospital clown interventions, as compared with medication, the presence of a parent, standard care, and other non-pharmacological distraction interventions on anxiety and pain in minors undergoing medical procedures.
METHOD: Randomized trials were identified in PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus and CINAHL, and previous reviews. Screening of titles and abstracts and full-texts, data extraction and risk of bias assessment was done by two independent reviewers. We conducted random-effects network and pairwise meta-analyses based on a frequentist framework.
RESULTS: Our analyses with 28 studies showed significantly lower anxiety scores in clowning and other distraction interventions as compared with the presence of parents. No differences were observed between clowning, medication, and other distraction interventions. Clowning interventions were superior to standard care in our main analyses, but non-significant in some of the sensitivity analyses. Furthermore, clowning led to significantly lower pain as compared with presence of parents and standard care. No differences were observed between clowning interventions and the other comparators. For both outcomes, large between study heterogeneity was present but no significant inconsistency between designs. Risk of bias was mainly high and accordingly the certainty of evidence is considered moderate to low.
CONCLUSIONS: We found no significant difference between medication, other non-medical distraction interventions and hospital clown interventions. Hospital clowns and other distraction interventions were more effective in reducing anxiety and pain in children undergoing medical procedures than the presence of parents alone. In order to allow for better insights regarding the comparative effectiveness of clowning interventions future trials should include detailed descriptions about the clowning intervention itself and the comparator. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).
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