Barney and the Kung Fu Panda reduces anxiety in children

Previously distraction techniques such as reading, playing with toys or on hand-held video consoles have been ways parents may choose to reduce their child’s anxiety prior to medical procedures. This latest study has examined the impact of watching a movie, for the purpose of the study it was either Barney or Kung Fu Panda to establish if this can reduce trait-anxiety and the efficiency and speed of medical treatment.

35 children who were receiving wart treatment were recruited to participate in the study. Half of the children went straight into the doctors for their treatment while the other group were distracted with a movie prior to their appointment.

Wart removal was completed with a technique known as Cryotherapy, it is a procedure in which liquid nitrogen is applied to the skin at weekly or bi-weekly intervals until the wart has gone. It is reported to be an uncomfortable procedure and can be both painful and distressing for young children who often have to be restrained and calmed by parents both prior and during the treatment.

The researchers of the study which is to be published in the Journal Archives of Dermatology, reported that of the children who watched the movie before their treatment, the amount of children who were reported as being ‘highly anxious’ was only a quarter of what it was when they went straight into their appointment. In addition to this, the procedures for children who had watched the movie prior to their appointment were on average 3 minutes shorter than those of the children who did not. However this result, the researchers reported, could have occurred by chance.

Mindfulness has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety related distress; it could be that if both parent and child practiced some mindfulness techniques such as the Body Scan, symptoms of anxiety could be greatly reduced. Additionally, Mindfulness has been found to be an effective means of pain management and could therefore have more that one benefit for the children.

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