Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center recently developed a new screening tool to assess child and parent coping techniques prior to surgery.  The new tool, called Perioperative Adult Child Behavioral Interaction Scale (PACBIS) measures parent and child distress and coping on a 5-point scale, with 1 being the lowest. The study prospectively assessed the distress, anxiety and coping behaviors of 405 children, aged 3-12 years, and their parents at four different time points around the child's surgery, two preoperative and two postoperative. By screening parents and children with assessments such as the PACBIS, and reducing preoperative distress, researchers hope to improve postoperative outcomes.

According Dr. Nancy Hagerman, "the PACBIS strongly predicted postoperative and postdischarge maladaptive behaviors and postoperative pain in children". Additionally, the study found the higher children scored on the PACBIS, the more likely they were to experience separation anxiety, sleep problems and aggression. High scores for the parents were associated with separation anxiety and sleep problems as well.  Dr. Hagerman pointed out "'parents who cope well and provide distracting nonprocedural talk help their child reduce distress and emergence delirium, postoperative pain, and new-onset maladaptive behaviors,' she said, adding that members of the surgical team are also influential in achieving optimal perioperative behavioral outcomes".

A a healthcare professional, do you, or others in your unit, assess child and parent distress and coping behaviors either before or after procedures? Do you find assessments like the PACBIS to be benefical?