Preoperative Care of Children: Strategies From a Child Life Perspective

AORN J. 2016 Jul;104(1):11-22. doi: 10.1016/j.aorn.2016.05.004.


The experience of surgery can be extremely stressful for children and their family members. Many children's hospitals offer a formal surgical preparation program to patients and their families, usually led by a child life specialist. However, smaller hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers may not be able to use this approach to preparing children for surgery. In this scenario, the perioperative nurse is in the ideal position to provide developmentally appropriate surgical preparation and education at the bedside. Knowledge of normal child development and age-appropriate diversional activities are necessary to implement an effective surgical preparation program. This age-appropriate preparation can help facilitate a positive medical experience that can reduce anxiety and affect the child's and his or her family's view of future medical encounters.

Keywords: age-appropriate preparation; child life; coping; pediatric; preoperative.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Preoperative Care*