EMDR and Nonpharmacological Techniques for Anxiety Prevention in Children Prior to Invasive Medical Procedures: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Nonpharmacological Techniques (NPT) have been suggested as an efficient and safe means to reduce pain and anxiety in invasive medical procedures. Due to the anxious and potentially traumatic nature of these procedures, we decided to integrate an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) session in the preprocedure NPT. The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of one session of EMDR in addition to the routine NPT. Forty-nine pediatric patients (Male = 25; Female = 24) aged 8–18 years (M = 13.17; SD = 2.98) undergoing painful and invasive medical procedures were randomized to receive standard preprocedural care (N = 25) or a session of EMDR in addition to the standard nonpharmacological interventions (N = 24). Participants completed the anxiety and depression scales from the Italian Psychiatric Self-evaluation Scale for Children and Adolescents (SAFA) and rated anxiety on a 0–10 numeric rating scale. Participants in the NPT+EMDR condition expressed significantly less anxiety before the medical procedure than those in the NPT group (p = .038). The integration of EMDR with NPT was demonstrated to be an effective anxiety prevention technique for pediatric sedo-analgesia. These results are the first data on the efficacy of EMDR as a technique to prevent anxiety in pediatric sedo-analgesia. There are important long-term clinical implications because this therapy allows an intervention on situations at risk of future morbidity and the prevention of severe disorders.