“I was scared about just the whole thing... it made me feel better.” The effect of unit tours on pediatric patients in the perioperative setting

Lynda J. Dimitroff, Lynn W. Nichols


Objective: Anxiety is a major issue for surgical patients during the perianesthesia period, especially pediatric patients and their families. The surgical experience can be extremely stressful to children and their caregivers. Offering preoperative tours to children and their families may increase their sense of control and positively affect their overall perioperative experience. The purpose of the research was to explore the effect of unit tours on pediatric patients in the perioperative setting. The research question for this study was: What is the effect of unit tours on pediatric patients in the perioperative setting? The tours implemented during the study were designed and conducted specifically for this study.

Methods: Naturalistic inquiry and descriptive qualitative were used in this study. The sample included 33 children, 7-11 years old (y.o.) who were scheduled for otolaryngological and urological surgeries (minor procedures) through the Ambulatory Surgery Center at a 528-bed acute-care facility in western New York, and their parents. The sample size of 33 children was appropriate for this qualitative study. Children excluded from the study were those: who had not participated in a tour prior to surgery; whose surgery was canceled on DOS; who were medicated prior to the interview; who had an unplanned hospital admission; and children with a medical history that would impact normal developmental stages. The primary investigator collected all of the data and was mentored through the process in a nursing research fellowship program by the director of the Department of Nursing Research. Data were collected through interviews with children, open-ended questionnaires with parents, participant observation, and record review of patient clinical data. Data from interviews and questionnaires were analyzed using constant-comparative analysis to identify emergent themes. Participant observations and clinical data were utilized in the overall analysis.

Results: Four themes were identified - two from the children’s interviews and two from the parents’ interviews including: Child Theme I - The children thought that the tours were very beneficial; Child Theme II - The tours provided the children with feelings of control during a stressful event; Parent Theme III - Parents believed the tours were an informative experience; and, Parent Theme IV - Parents appreciated having their questions and concerns addressed prior to surgery as well as having the opportunity to become familiar with the environment prior to their child’s surgery.

Conclusions: The perioperative tours had a positive impact on anxiety and provided an understanding of the upcoming surgical experience for both the children and their parents. The tours allayed fears about the surgery, made the children feel more comfortable about the impending surgery, provided an opportunity to ask questions, and, familiarized families with the operative surgical environment. The results of this study suggest the importance of unit tours for pediatric patients and their parents. The results contribute to the limited research in the current professional literature.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v7n10p129

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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