Novel Way to Improve Satisfaction, Comprehension, and Anxiety in Caregivers: A Randomized Trial Exploring the Use of Comprehensive, Illustrated Children's Books for Pediatric Surgical Populations.
Background: Surgery generates anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact informed consent and postoperative outcomes. This study assessed whether educational, illustrated children's books improve comprehension, satisfaction, and anxiety of caregivers in pediatric surgical populations.
Methods: A prospective randomized trial was initiated at a tertiary care children's hospital. All patients ≤ 18 years old with caregiver and diagnosis of 1) uncomplicated appendicitis (English or Spanish speaking); 2) ruptured appendicitis; 3) pyloric stenosis; 4) need for gastrostomy tube; or 5) umbilical hernia were eligible. Conventional consent was obtained followed by completion of 17 validated survey questions addressing apprehension, satisfaction, and comprehension. Randomization (2:1) occurred after consent and before operative intervention with the experimental group (EG) receiving an illustrated comprehensive children's book outlining anatomy, pathophysiology, hospital course, and postoperative care. A second identical survey was completed before discharge. Primary outcomes were caregiver apprehension, satisfaction, and comprehension.
Results: Eighty caregivers were included (55: EG, 25: control group [CG]). There were no significant differences in patient or caregiver demographics between groups. The baseline survey demonstrated no difference in comprehension, satisfaction, or apprehension between groups (all p values NS). After intervention, EG had significant improvement in 14 of 17 questions compared with CG (all p < 0.05). When tabulated by content, there was significant improvement in comprehension (p = 0.0009), satisfaction (p < 0.0001), and apprehension (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: The use of illustrated educational children's books to explain pathophysiology and surgical care is a novel method to improve comprehension, satisfaction, and anxiety of caregivers. This could benefit informed consent, understanding, and postoperative outcomes.