Parental and Child Anxiety Perioperatively: Relationship, Repercussions, and Recommendations

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Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing

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Elective surgical procedures predictably cause stress and anxiety for children and their parents. This can have a negative effect on the child's short-term and long-term psychological and physiological outcomes. This narrative review examines perioperative child anxiety and existing interventions to reduce child and parent perioperative anxiety. The aim was to identify a need and gaps in knowledge for future study.


Peer-reviewed articles were examined to identify themes in the literature on interventions in place to reduce child and parent perioperative anxiety and to identify any gaps in knowledge for future study.


A narrative review of 62 peer-reviewed articles was conducted.


Evidence of themes aimed at lowering perioperative child anxiety using medication, cognitive educational, and play therapy approaches emerged through the literature search. A relationship between parental anxiety and the effect on the child's anxiety was supported, yet interventions that target the parent were limited cognitive education interventions and were found to be implemented only in a small number of hospitals.


A clear gap is the lack of research on the effects of parental interventions on the short-term and long-term negative behavioral and physiological outcomes of child perioperative anxiety. Research is needed to further explore the effect of a preoperative psychotherapeutic intervention to allow parents to express anxieties and discuss them with a trained professional in the absence of children. A systematic review or further research would help determine if a psychotherapeutic intervention for the parents would lower child anxiety perioperatively.