Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 224–245 | Cite as

Review of a Parent’s Influence on Pediatric Procedural Distress and Recovery

  • Erin A. Brown
  • Alexandra De Young
  • Roy Kimble
  • Justin Kenardy


Understanding how parents influence their child’s medical procedures can inform future work to reduce pediatric procedural distress and improve recovery outcomes. Following a pediatric injury or illness diagnosis, the associated medical procedures can be potentially traumatic events that are often painful and distressing and can lead to the child experiencing long-term physical and psychological problems. Children under 6 years old are particularly at risk of illness or injury, yet their pain-related distress during medical procedures is often difficult to manage because of their young developmental level. Parents can also experience ongoing psychological distress following a child’s injury or illness diagnosis. The parent and parenting behavior is one of many risk factors for increased pediatric procedural distress. The impact of parents on pediatric procedural distress is an important yet not well-understood phenomenon. There is some evidence to indicate parents influence their child through their own psychological distress and through parenting behavior. This paper has three purposes: (1) review current empirical research on parent-related risk factors for distressing pediatric medical procedures, and longer-term recovery outcomes; (2) consider and develop existing theories to present a new model for understanding the parent–child distress relationship during medical procedures; and (3) review and make recommendations regarding current assessment tools and developing parenting behavior interventions for reducing pediatric procedural distress.


Parenting Pediatric Medical procedure Behavior Distress Pain Emotion regulation 



E.B. was supported by the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, and is a trainee member of Pain in Child Health (PICH), a Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research, Centre for Children’s Health ResearchUniversity of QueenslandSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  3. 3.Pegg Leditschke Children’s Burns CentreLady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Children’s Health QueenslandSouth BrisbaneAustralia

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