chapter  9
56 Pages

Understanding Children's Memories of Medical Procedures: "He Didn't Touch Me and It Didn't Hurt!"

All children in our society are subject to medical procedures sometime during the period from birth through 6 years-of-age to assess health status, prevent disease, or to diagnose and treat illness. Most healthy infants and young children experience annually body touch and handling by medical staff using a stethoscope, an otoscope, a thermometer, a tongue depressor, and a hammer during routine pediatric examinations. Nearly every child will have experienced "the needle" prior to entrance in public school programs, as we strive for our national health goal that all young children be inoculated against common childhood diseases. During periods of acute illness or following accidental injury, a young child may be introduced to additional medical procedures if, for example, she or he is required to give a urine or blood sample or have an X-ray taken. Approximately 10 to 15% of the children in our society, cutting across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, have a chronic, sometimes life-threatening, disease that requires vigorous, repeated, and often very painful medical procedures (Hobbs, Perrin, & Ireys, 1985).