Distraction techniques for children undergoing procedures: a critical review of pediatric research

J Pediatr Nurs. 2012 Dec;27(6):652-81. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2011.08.001. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Pediatric patients are often subjected to procedures that can cause pain and anxiety. Although pharmacologic interventions can be used, distraction is a simple and effective technique that directs children's attention away from noxious stimuli. However, there is a multitude of techniques and technologies associated with distraction. Given the range of distraction techniques, the purpose of this article was to provide a critical assessment of the evidence-based literature that can inform clinical practice and future research. Recommendations include greater attention to child preferences and temperament as a means of optimizing outcomes and heightening awareness around child participation in health care decision making.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Extinction, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Music Therapy / methods
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Management / instrumentation
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Play and Playthings
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Video Games
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy / methods