Can a ‘Magic Coat’ ease pre-surgery anxiety?

Can a ‘Magic Coat’ ease pre-surgery anxiety?

A PCHF-funded study is set to determine if a new app can help to ease anxiety among kids waiting to undergo surgical procedures. 

The Magic Coat app – based on a resilience-building program of the same name – is being rolled out at Perth Children’s Hospital’s (PCH) Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine.  

The app – developed by the Magic Coat Foundation – has been developed specifically for PCH in response to calls from carers and patients for both user-friendly information about their surgery, and tools that could help kids manage anxiety before their procedure. 

Lead researcher and PCH anaesthetist, Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg says that up to 85 per cent of children experience significant anxiety associated with their surgery – 25 per cent so severe they need pre-operative sedation. 

The Magic Coat app depicts PCH through a series of short videos, taking users on a typical surgical journey through the hospital and what kids can expect during their hospital admission.  

Featuring a cast of colourful characters from the Magic Coat program, the app also helps kids identify feelings they may be experiencing ahead of their procedure and provides tools and techniques for managing those feelings. 

Prof. Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg said: “Significant anxiety increases their risks of delirium, prolonged and more intense pain, lengthier hospital stays and avoidance of medical encounters in the future – an issue that can endure into adulthood. 

“I’m hopeful that children who use the app in the days and weeks leading up to their surgery, will experience less anxiety and have fun and gain valuable life skills in the process.”

The study will compare anxiety levels in 200 children between the ages and 4 and 11 given access to the app, against baseline data from 2023. Researchers will look for changes in anxiety levels and the need for pre-operative sedatives. 

To donate to more groundbreaking research, click here.

Try out the resources on the Magic Coat app:

Click the link for the App Store or Google Play.


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