Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-2020

Faculty Advisor(s)

Brooke Jenkins


Over 85% of children experience postoperative pain. If poorly treated, pediatric postoperative pain may lead to various negative health outcomes. Adult behaviors may be associated with child experiences in the postoperative environment. For example, adult behaviors such as distraction, humor, and coping advice divert a child’s attention away from their pain and thus, may significantly reduce child postoperative distress. In contrast, adult behaviors such as empathy, reassurance, and apology direct a child’s attention towards their pain which may increase a child’s overall postoperative distress. Moreover, patient demographic factors, like child ethnicity, may significantly alter the frequency of use of these adult behaviors. Therefore, this study aimed to determine which participant demographic factors are associated with the use of certain adult behaviors in response to child postoperative distress. This study included children ages 2 to 10 years old (N=112) undergoing elective surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Participant demographics including ethnicity and race were collected prior to surgery. Nurse, parent, and child postoperative behavioral interactions were video recorded in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). From these video recordings, adult behaviors were coded for their frequency of use. Multiple regressions analyses showed that adults were more likely to use humor with Non-Hispanic White children compared to Hispanic children (b = 0.393, p = 0.049). Moreover, fathers were marginally more likely to use empathy, reassurance, and apology with Hispanic children compared to Non-Hispanic White children (b = 0.249, p = 0.05). These results suggest that Hispanic and Non-Hispanic White children may receive different behavioral treatment in response to their postoperative distress. Implications for these findings suggest that child ethnicity may be predictive of different adult PACU behaviors which may illustrate how cultural differences can influence the child postoperative experience.


Presented at the Spring 2020 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.