Evidence of Need

When my 5 year-old daughter had to go to hospital to get a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan and an Electroencephalography (EEG) to check if her brain was working ok, she was very worried. ‘What? Why?’ she kept asking us.

I was very anxious too but I tried not to show it to her. As a parent understanding what these hospital procedures do and explaining them to a small child is not easy. I found some information for adults online and then tried to explain it to her by building a pretend brain scanner using a cardboard box and an EEG from sticky labels and an oranges net bag. We used these to play doctors together and test the brain of her teddy bear. In hospital we were told that she would have to stay very still for her MRI scan and they explained to me that my daughter might need a general anaesthetic if she would have trouble staying calm. When it was her turn she showed her teddy to the nurses and said teddy had done it before and that she would be fine just like him. She did very well and stayed calm throughout all tests.

Preparing children for difficult procedures through play has been proven to be a very effective way to reduce stress levels in children and it also helps to lower the anxiety of their parents. For some procedures the success rate is higher and the use of general anaesthetics can be avoided if children stay calm and can work together with the healthcare professionals. Children refusing to undergo a procedure can delay the diagnosis and the provision of appropriate healthcare and can lead to a worsening of the child’s health. Information on hospital procedures is mainly provided in letters or leaflets. However some people prefer or need visual information, therefore there is an unmet need for age- and ability-appropriate information in the form of video clips for children and their parents.

This report on our survey for parents and carers on 'Preparing for Hospital' (May 2015) shows 91% of parents of a child in mainstream school and 59% of parents of a child with learning disabilities thought video clips would help them prepare their child and/or help them to be less anxious about going to hospital. The report shows the feedback of 100 parents from across Scotland.

This report on our survey for professionals working in healthcare or education across Scotland (September 2015)  shows 94% of the 86 professionals who completed the survey thought video clips on hospital procedures would be very helpful. Feedback showed professionals thought videos on hospital procedures would help to inform and reassure families and make a difference to their work with families.