Parental presence during invasive procedures in children: what is the physician's perspective?

South Med J. 2003 Sep;96(9):884-7. doi: 10.1097/01.SMJ.0000087283.17069.98.


Introduction: Invasive procedures may be frightening and painful experiences for children and their parents. Many parents prefer to be present when procedures are performed in their children. Allowing parents to be present during procedures decreases procedure-related anxiety. Few if any studies have addressed the physician's perspective on this issue. We conducted a simple observation survey to examine this question.

Methods: We sent three-part questionnaires to the directors of 80 emergency departments with pediatric and/or emergency medicine (EM) residencies or pediatric EM fellowship training programs. The questionnaires asked whether physicians allowed parents to be present during medical procedures, as well as their opinions regarding parental presence and the effect it had on them as physicians.

Results: The response rate was 77% (n = 62). More than 87% of physicians stated that they allow parents to be present during simple procedures (eg, venipuncture), but they indicated that they are more reluctant to do so during more invasive procedures (eg, major resuscitation scenario; 22%). Physicians' training also may influence their level of comfort and their decision making in such situations.

Conclusion: Most physicians stated that they allow parental presence during simple procedures. Physicians were more reluctant to allow parents to be present during complex procedures. EM and pediatric emergency medical training increased the physicians' level of comfort.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Child
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Parents*
  • Physicians*
  • Professional-Family Relations