Introduction. Previous work has shown that parents prefer to be present when their children undergo common invasive procedures, although physicians are ambivalent about parental presence.

Purpose. To determine the effect of a parent-focused intervention on the pain and performance of the procedure, anxiety of parents and clinicians, and parental satisfaction with care.

Population. Children younger than 3 years old Undergoing venipuncture, intravenous cannulation, or uretheral catheterization.

Setting. Pediatric emergency department of Boston City Hospital.

Design. Randomized controlled trial with three groups; parents present and given instructions on how to help their children; parents present, but no instructions given; and parents not present.

Intervention. The parents were instructed to touch, talk to, and maintain eye contact during the procedure.

Results. A total of 431 parents was randomized to the intervention (N = 153), present (N = 147), and not present (N = 131) groups. The groups were equivalent with respect to measured sociodemographic variables and parents' previous experience in the pediatric emergency department. No differences emerged with respect to pain (3-point scale measured by parent and clinician, and analysis of cry); performance of the procedure (number of attempts, completion of procedure by first clinician, time); clinician anxiety; or parental satisfaction with care. Parents who were present were more likely to rate the pain of the children as extreme/severe (52%) in comparison to clinicians (15%, κ .07, poor agreement) and were significantly less anxious than parents who were not present.

Conclusion. Overall, the intervention was not effective in reducing the pain of routine procedures. Parental presence did not negatively affect performance of the procedure or increase clinician anxiety. Parents who were present were less anxious than those who were not present.

Clinical Implication. In general, parents have indicated that they want to be present when their children undergo procedures. The results of this study challenge the traditional belief that parental presence negatively affects our ability to successfully complete procedures. We should encourage parents who want to be present to stay during procedures.

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