What are the nonpharmacologic adjuvant approaches to pediatric sedation?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Wan-Tsu Wendy Chang, MD; Chief Editor: Ted Rosenkrantz, MD  more...
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Nonpharmacologic approaches to sedating children are gaining increasing popularity. Some of these adjuvant techniques require training, but once learned, they can easily be integrated into wound care or postprocedural pain management.

To a large extent, adjuvant therapy involves distracting the patient. This may require the use of coping skills to focus attention away from the procedure. Physical objects that appeal to children can provide visual or auditory distractions. Role-playing, such as pretending to perform a procedure, may help alleviate a child’s fear. Guided imagery, hypnosis, and distractions can be powerful adjuvants to sedation in children and adults.

Also helpful is allowing family members to remain with the child during the painful procedure. Having a family member at the bedside may decrease distress for both the child and the parent. Tell anxious children to close their eyes and pretend that they are in their favorite place. Involving parents by having them tell a story or distract the child goes a long way toward reducing anxiety.

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