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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Preparing Young Patients and Their Parents For Medical Procedures: Strategies To Reduce Distress And Promote Coping

by Melissa VanHorn Becker, PhD 4 CE Credits

Medical procedures vary in their invasiveness, duration, frequency and painfulness, but share common elements that can be stressful for children, such as loss of control, exposure to unfamiliar people, sights and sounds, and separation from parents. Not surprisingly, negative emotional and behavioral reactions to procedures are not uncommon, and range from verbal expressions of discomfort, to resistance, physical protest and refusal to cooperate. This course provides health professionals with knowledge and behavioral strategies to help children and their parents cope with a range of medical procedures, from well-care procedures (e.g., immunizations, blood draws) to diagnostic studies (e.g., endoscopies, urodynamic studies) to treatment (e.g., catheterizations, surgery). The course reviews common predictors of medical anxiety, and provides an overview of developmental and psychological factors that can impact patients’ reactions to procedures. It also provides an overview of effective strategies health professionals can implement to reduce distress and promote coping for both patients and parents.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours, ASWB Clinical CE clock hours, and NYSED CE credit.


Course Sections/Outline:

  • Overview
  • Risk Factors For Medical Anxiety and Distress
  • How Children’s Coping Style Influences Adaptation to the Procedure
  • How Parent’s Coping Style Influences Children’s Psychological Well-being
  • The Impact of Developmental Factors on Medical Distress
  • Preparation Programs
  • Strategies for Parents
  • Strategies for Children
  • Child and Parent Coping Skills Training
  • After the Procedure
  • Summary
  • Web-Based Resources
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Identify and assess 4 common predictors of medical anxiety in pediatric populations.
  • Recognize the unique influencial factors on young patients’ reactions to medical procedures across 4 developmental stages from infancy through adolescence.
  • Distinguish how 2 styles of individual coping (e.g., approach vs. avoidance; problem- vs. emotion-focused) can impact reactions to procedures for both patients and parents.
  • Implement over 10 simple patient- and parent-based strategies to reduce distress and promote coping among youth in response to medical procedures, including implications for aftercare.