The Clinical Need
Procedural anxiety is defined as “an excessive fear of medical or surgical procedures that results in acute distress or interference with completing necessary procedures” (Choy 2017).
Anxiety is a complex interaction to ‘perceived threat’ based on an appraisal of the level of threat and the individual’s perceived ability to cope with that threat.
It is normal for anyone, but particularly children and young people going in for medical or surgical procedures to experience procedural anxiety. As a result, they may not be able to access medical care impacting on their physical and psychological wellbeing.
This is important for health services for several reasons;
- Children who have high procedural anxiety need more support through procedures from the clinical team (including sedation and/ or general anaesthetics)
- Sedation and General Anaesthetics have significant additional clinical risk and cost implications.
- The levels of distress from children and young people can lead to delays or in them not having important medical or surgical procedures.
- Children and young people develop an ongoing ‘chronic’ anxiety around medical intervention which is usually managed by avoidance.
- This continues into adulthood where they are less likely to engage in preventative healthcare programmes resulting at increase costs within the wider system.
Based on the successful RiTTA model developed by both Velindre UHT and the ‘Ollie’ AI platform developed at Alder Hay Hospital, the ABUHB Paediatric Psychology team is developing an AI technology solution that utilises the existing ABUHB Paediatric Play training set to provides real time information, media, strategies and advice for young people experiencing procedural anxiety 24/7.
We know that children and young people are increasingly accessing technology, and can often engage with digital platforms or services more readily than with human based ones, especially those which are available 24/7 such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets.