Objective: Our purpose was to compare three techniques in their ability to decrease anxiety induced by the pelvic examination among children of different races.
Study design: Eighty-nine subjects between 3 and 8 years old of white, African-American, and Hispanic race or ethnicity were randomly assigned to one of three distraction techniques that was used during the genital examination: passive play (being read to), active play (singing, blowing bubbles), or viewing a movie through video eyeglasses. Levels of vocalized distress, as well as distress expressed by physical behavior and emotional support requested, were directly observed and recorded. Children also reported their level of satisfaction at the end of the examination. Multivariate analysis of covariance was used to evaluate the independent effects of each technique and race while we controlled for confounding variables.
Results: Levels of physical distress were lowest among children who used video glasses and highest among those randomly assigned to passive play (p = 0.02). Children randomized to video glasses also expressed higher levels of satisfaction than those randomized to active (p = 0.001) or passive (p = 0.05) play. No differences associated with race or ethnicity were detected.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that video glasses are more effective than active or passive play in reducing anxiety and improving satisfaction levels among children undergoing a genital examination.