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caregiver, pediatric anxiety, postoperative behavior, postoperative pain



  1. Hennessey, Erin DNP, RN, FNP-C
  2. Hickman, Ronald L. Jr. PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAAN
  3. Toly, Valerie Boebel PhD, RN, CPNP
  4. Gary, Faye A. EdD, MS, RN, FAAN


Background: Preoperative anxiety is very common across the age continuum; however, for children who experience anxiety, it can be especially challenging. On the basis of the report of caregivers, this anxiety can sometimes lead to negative behaviors postoperatively.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between pediatric trait anxiety and postoperative outcomes in pediatric patients who undergo ambulatory surgery.


Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional descriptive research design study of 64 caregivers was conducted. Inclusion criteria consisted of caregivers of children aged 1-8 years who underwent ambulatory surgery and provided informed consent. Measures administered included the Post Hospitalization Behavioral Questionnaire to evaluate postoperative behavior of patients after discharge from the hospital, Parents' Postoperative Pain Measure-Short Form to evaluate pain of a child after surgery, and Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders to evaluate children's anxiety. Data were analyzed using measures of central tendencies and bivariate correlational analysis.


Results: Caregivers' appraisals of trait anxiety in children undergoing ambulatory surgery were low, whereas negative postoperative behaviors and pain levels were high. The only statistically significant relationship was a negative correlation between trait anxiety and postoperative pain of children who underwent ambulatory surgery.


Conclusions: Central to this finding is the importance of developing adaptive skills of children to improve postoperative outcomes such as pain management. However, this study showed that trait anxiety is not related to postoperative negative behaviors.