Induction of anesthesia can be distressing both for children and their parents. Nonpharmacological behavioral interventions can reduce the anxiety of children without significant adverse effects as seen with sedative medications. We hypothesized that the use of incentive-based game therapy in conjunction with parental involvement would be a simple and cost-effective intervention in reducing the preoperative anxiety in children.
Eighty children between the age group of 4 and 8 years scheduled to undergo surgery were randomly assigned to a control group (n = 40) and intervention group (n = 40). Children in the intervention group participated in an incentive-based game in the preoperative room. Anesthesia was induced with parental presence in both the groups. The modified Yale Preoperative Anxiety Scale (mYPAS) score to measure the anxiety of the children during induction was taken as the primary outcome. Induction Compliance Checklist score and parental satisfaction were assessed as secondary outcomes.
The mYPAS score of children in the intervention group was significantly less than the control group during anesthesia induction. The mean difference (95% confidence interval [CI]) of the mYPAS at induction between the 2 groups was 20 (95% CI, 16–24; P
< .001). Fourteen (35%) children in the intervention group and 2 (5%) children in control group displayed no anxiety (mYPAS score <30) (difference of −30%; 95% CI, −11% to −49%; P
< .001). Children in the intervention group were more compliant with mask induction and had a significantly less Induction Compliance Checklist score compared to the control (P
< .001). Thirty (75%) parents in the intervention group were satisfied at the end of surgery compared to 6 (15%) in the control group (difference of −60%; 95% CI, −39% to −73%; P
The use of incentive-based game therapy reduces the anxiety scores during induction of anesthesia and improves the compliance to facemask induction in children undergoing surgery. It can form a simple, cost-effective, and easy-to-administer technique that can be easily applied in low-income settings.