Background: To determine whether parental presence during induction of anesthesia is an effective preoperative behavioral intervention, a randomized controlled trial with children undergoing outpatient surgery was conducted.
Methods: Eighty-four children were randomly assigned to a parent-present or parent-absent group. Using multiple behavioral and physiologic measures of anxiety, the effect of the intervention on the children and their parents was assessed. Predictors for the response to the intervention were examined using multivariate linear regression analysis.
Results: When the intervention group (parent-present) was compared to the control group (parent-absent), overall there were no significant differences in any of the behavioral or physiologic measures of anxiety tested during induction of anesthesia. Using the child's serum cortisol concentration as the outcome, parental presence, the child's age and baseline temperament, and trait anxiety of the parent, were identified as predictors of the child's anxiety during induction. Analysis of variance demonstrated that three groups showed diminished cortisol concentrations with parental presence: children older than 4 yr (P = 0.001), children whose parent had a low trait anxiety (P = 0.02), and children who had a low baseline level of activity as assessed by temperament (P = 0.05).
Conclusions: Children who were older than 4 yr or those with a parent with a low trait anxiety or who had a low baseline level of activity/temperament benefited from parental presence during induction.