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The anesthesiologist will use a $3.2 million National Institutes of Health grant on the effort.

By: Brandon Russell
Published: April 26, 2011 02:15 PM

Dr. Zeev Kain, professor and chairman of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care at UC Irvine, will use a $3.2 million National Institutes of Health grant to lead a research study on reducing surgical anxiety and pain in children.

The Provider-Tailored Intervention for Perioperative Stress (P-TIPS) program's main focus is to promote positive behaviors in doctors and parents to create a calmer surgical environment for young people. When interacting with pediatric patients and their parents, staff and anesthesiologists will be encouraged to integrate humor, eye contact and simple medical terminology.

The study will be implemented at four California children’s medical institutions, including UC Irvine Medical Center – CHOC Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, UC San Diego – Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego and Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

“A program like P-TIPS is specifically tailored to improve pediatric surgical outcomes," said Kain (above), a national leader in perioperative biopsychosocial research. "It's important that health-care providers not overwhelm children with complicated medical jargon or overly reassuring statements. We've found that a friendly and direct conversational approach lowers undesirable stress and anxiety."

But Kain won't be limiting his efforts to just visits to the doctor. He’s also using an additional NIH grant to implement a Web-based database that will provide parents and their children with information about surgical procedures, postoperative pain management, and personalized plans for alleviating anxiety and pain.

"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. “Not only is this traumatic for these young patients, but it also contributes to increased postoperative pain and delayed hospital discharge.”