Effect of a clown’s presence at botulinum toxin injections in children: a randomized, prospective study
Lars Kjaersgaard Hansen1, Maria Kibaek1, Torben Martinussen2, Lene Kragh3, Mogens Hejl1
1Department of Paediatrics, Hans Christian Andersen Children's Hospital, Odense University Hospital, Odense; 2Roskilde Hospital, Roskilde; 3Department of Statistics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Background: The effect of the presence of a hospital clown during pediatric procedures has rarely been evaluated. In a pediatric ward, botulinum toxin injection is a painful procedure and a stressful experience for the child. We undertook a study of the effect of the presence of a hospital clown on children treated with botulinum toxin in an outpatient setting.
Methods: In total, 60 children, the majority of whom had spastic cerebral palsy, were subjected to a total of 121 botulinum toxin treatment sessions. Thirty-two children were being treated for the first time. During a 2-year period, we enrolled 121 treatment sessions prospectively, and the children were randomized to either the presence of a female clown during treatment or to no presence of a clown. The duration of the child's crying during the procedure was used as an indicator of the effect of the presence of a clown.
Results: The effect of the clown was significantly related to patient gender. Girls were found to have a significantly shorter period of crying when the clown was present. For children younger than 8 years, the effect on boys was negative. Children treated for the first time did not appear to benefit from the presence of the clown, and showed no difference in effect between genders.
Conclusion: No effect of the clown was documented for children being treated for the first time. At repeat treatments, we saw a positive effect of the female clown in relation to girls, and a negative effect on boys younger than 8 years of age.
Keywords: clown, injections, pain, botulinum toxin
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