Preparing children for medical examinations: the importance of previous medical experience.

L. M. Dahlquist, K. M. Gil, F. D. Armstrong, D. D. DeLawyer, P. Greene, D. Wuori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


The relationship between past medical experience and children's response to preparation for medical examinations was investigated in 79 pediatric outpatients aged 3 to 12 years. Children were randomly assigned to one of five preparation conditions prior to receiving a medical examination and a throat culture: sensory information about the exam, training in coping skills (deep breathing and positive self-talk), combined sensory information and coping skills training, attention control, and no-treatment control. The results indicated that children with previous negative medical experiences demonstrated more behavioral distress during a throat culture examination that did children with previous positive or neutral medical experiences. In addition, the attention control condition appeared to increase the distress of children with previous negative medical experiences. Amount of past exposure to the specific medical procedure was not related to observed distress. The implications of these findings for the preparation of children for medical procedures are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
JournalHealth psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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