Skip to main content

Reducing Distress and Improving Cooperation with Invasive Medical Procedures for Children with Neurodisability

Published March 2016

Download the full evidence summary: Invasive Medical Procedures WtE

What were we asked?

A parent asked which interventions are effective for children with neurodisability to reduce distress and improve cooperation with invasive medical procedures carried out in hospital by health professionals. Such procedures include taking blood, placement of cannula into veins (to take samples or administer fluids or drugs), and insertion of tubes into the nose or mouth to aid feeding. These procedures can be particularly challenging for children who have had a previous bad experience.

Key findings

  • Evidence suggests that children require individualised approaches to reduce distress and improve their cooperation with invasive medical procedures.
  • Research is needed to identify effective strategies to support children who have had a previous traumatic experience of invasive medical procedures.
  • How professionals interpret the reasons for challenging behaviour is crucial. Strategies that parents use to manage children’s behaviour can inform interventions to reduce distress.
  • Introducing standard protocols for invasive procedures and sharing them with families empowers parents and professionals to know what good practice looks like.
  • Wider changes to NHS policies are likely to improve children’s experience of health care, but research is needed to see if they are implemented and effective.
This information is produced by PenCRU researchers and reviewed by external experts. The views expressed are those of PenCRU at the University of Exeter Medical School and do not represent the views of the Cerebra charity, or any other parties mentioned. We strongly recommend seeking medical advice before undertaking any treatments/therapies.