iPads as good as drugs for anxious kids - study

iPads as good as drugs for anxious kids - study

Kid worried about an upcoming operation? Forget sedatives - give them an iPad instead.

New research has found iPads are just as good at lowering children's anxiety as sedatives like midazolam, commonly given before operations requiring general anaesthesia.

Parents also report higher satisfaction with the anaesthetic procedure when their kids have iPads instead of drugs, and the anaesthetic itself worked better, according to research presented this week at the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists in Hong Kong.

In the study, half the kids aged four to 10 got midazolam and the other half iPads, loaded with apps appropriate to their age, 20 minutes before anaesthesia.

Their anxiety levels were measured by psychologists when they arrived, when they were separated from their parents, during their induction and afterwards. The quality of the induction was rated by anaesthetic nurses.

The researchers found parental and child anxiety levels to be about the same whether they had drugs or iPads.

"Our study showed that child and parental anxiety before anaesthesia are equally blunted by midazolam or use of the iPad. However, the quality of induction of anaesthesia, as well as parental satisfaction, were judged better in the iPad group," says researcher Dr Dominique Chassard.

"Use of iPads or other tablet devices is a non-pharmacologic tool which can reduce perioperative stress without any sedative effect in paediatric ambulatory surgery."