According to a new French study, playing with a touchscreen tablet -- such as Apple’s iPad -- could be as effective in bringing down anxiety levels in kids before a surgery as a sedative. It could even make anesthesia more effective. The research, led by Dr Dominique Chassard at the Hospices Civils de Lyon, was presented at the World Congress of Anesthesiologists annual conference in Hong Kong, August 28 to September 2.
Dr Chassard’s team studied 115 children aged between four and 10, all due to undergo surgery. They compared the effects of midazolam, a sedative frequently given to reduce anxiety before general anesthesia, to playing games on a tablet.
The children were randomly split into two groups: 55 of them were given 0.3 mg/kg of the sedative orally or rectally, while 60 were allowed to play on a tablet for 20 minutes before anesthesia.
The anxiety levels of children and their parents were evaluated by two psychologists at the following key times during their hospital stay: on arrival at hospital, at separation from parents, during induction of anesthesia and in the post-anesthesia care unit.
The researchers found similar anxiety levels in both groups of children and their parents. “Use of iPads or other tablet devices is a non-pharmacologic tool which can reduce perioperative stress without any sedative effect in pediatric ambulatory surgery,” said Dr Chassard.
However, the study revealed a difference in the quality of induction of anesthesia, scored 0 (not satisfied) to 10 (highly satisfied) via a questionnaire given to anesthesia nurses and parents. Both parents and nurses found anesthesia more satisfactory in the iPad group.