A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining psychological interventions for needle-related procedural pain and distress in children and adolescents: an abbreviated cochrane review

J Pediatr Psychol. 2008 Sep;33(8):842-54. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsn031. Epub 2008 Apr 2.


Objective: To report the results of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychological interventions for children and adolescents undergoing needle-related procedures.

Methods: A variety of cognitive-behavioral psychological interventions for managing procedural pain and distress in children and adolescents between 2 and 19 years of age were examined. Outcome measures included pain and distress as assessed by self-report, observer report, behavioral/observational measures, and physiological correlates.

Results: Twenty-eight trials met the criteria for inclusion in the review and provided the data necessary for pooling the results. Together, the trials included 1,039 participants in treatment conditions and 951 in control conditions. The largest effect sizes for treatment improvement over control conditions were found for distraction, combined cognitive-behavioral interventions, and hypnosis, with promising but limited evidence for several other psychological interventions.

Conclusions: Recommendations for conducting future RCTs are provided, and particular attention to the quality of trial design and reporting is highlighted.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Needles*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic