UC Irvine anesthesiologist to lead study on alleviating surgical anxiety, pain in children

Dr. Zeev Kain will use $3.2 million NIH grant to institute, test his P-TIPS program

April 21, 2011
Dr. Zeev Kain

A UC Irvine anesthesiologist will use a $3.2-million National Institutes of Health grant to launch a research effort aimed at lessening the anxiety and pain children feel before and after surgery.

Dr. Zeev Kain, professor of anesthesiology & perioperative care, will establish his Provider-Tailored Intervention for Perioperative Stress (P-TIPS) program at four children’s hospitals in California. P-TIPS is designed to promote specific behaviors in adults — doctors and parents alike — that will create a calmer surgical environment for youngsters.

“Some 4 million children undergo surgery in the U.S. each year, and up to 65 percent of them experience significant anxiety and distress before surgery,” said Kain, a national leader in perioperative biopsychosocial research.

“Not only is this traumatic for these young patients, but it also contributes to increased postoperative pain and delayed hospital discharge. A program like P-TIPS is specifically tailored to improve pediatric surgical outcomes.”

Under P-TIPS, surgical staff and anesthesiologists are trained to integrate positive behaviors into their interactions with pediatric patients and their parents — such as using humor, eye contact and simple medical language.

“It’s important that healthcare providers not overwhelm children with complicated medical jargon or overly reassuring statements,” Kain said. “We’ve found that a friendly and direct conversational approach lowers undesirable stress and anxiety.”

The P-TIPS study will involve UC Irvine Medical Center-CHOC Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UC San Diego School of Medicine-Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, and Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

Additionally, Kain is using another NIH grant to create and implement a unique Internet site to help parents ease children’s anxiety (and their own), properly handle postsurgical pain and, ultimately, facilitate healing. Web-based Tailored Intervention Preparation for Surgery will provide detailed information for parents about surgical procedures and postoperative pain management. WebTIPS also will develop a personalized plan for alleviating anxiety and pain, taking into account other medical and psychological factors, such as the parents’ coping and caring skills.

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