Helping children and caregivers cope with repeated invasive Procedures: How are we doing?

Keith J. Slifer, Cindy L. Tucker, Lynnda M. Dahlquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper discusses recent developments in the medical and psychological management of child behavioral distress during invasive (i.e., needle stick) procedures for diagnosis and treatment of chronic pediatric disorders. Along with a review of relevant studies from the medical, pediatric psychology and behavior analysis literatures, representative data are presented from recent research on pediatric procedural pain management. The impact of increasing use of implanted subcutaneous intravenous catheters (ports) and decreased reliance on intravenous cannulation is discussed. Similarly, the effects (and limitations) of more frequent use of topical anesthesia to prepare needle sites also are presented. The continuing need for adjunctive, nonpharmacological (i.e., cognitive and behavioral) interventions for procedural pain is emphasized, and recent studies on distraction and counter-conditioning-based treatments are described. Future research is encouraged on (1) behavioral interventions in relation to day-to-day contextual variables that modulate treatment effects and (2) the development of efficient screening measures to identify children and families who are least likely to cope effectively with repeated procedures, allowing them to be given greater priority for allocation of limited resources for psychosocial intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-152
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002


  • Counterconditioning
  • Distraction
  • Invasive procedures
  • Parent
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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