To describe the stress of children during medical transport.
Prospective observational study of a cohort of patients transferred by the Pediatric Transport Unit of a tertiary-care Pediatric Hospital in Catalonia (Spain) from January 2014 to January 2015.
The degree of stress was assessed by a modified Comfort score just before climbing into the ambulance to the referring hospital and just before arriving at the referral hospital.
A total of 220 patients were included, of whom 135 were male (61.4%) with a median age of 2.5 months (IQR 3 days-21 months). Median transfer time was 29 minutes (IQR 13-52 minutes). Sixty-three patients needed non-invasive ventilation (28.6%). The median score before the transfer was 16 (IQR 15-19) and after it 16 (IQR 14-18). In 23 cases (10.5%) patients were accompanied by their parents in the ambulance; no statistically significant differences were observed in the value of the score (p 0.959). Sucrose was used in 45 patients (20.5%) and some type of sedation in 31 cases (14.1%). Statistically significant differences were observed in the assessment attributable to sedation (p 0.032). Verbal accompaniment was performed in 94 patients (42.7%) and physical in 95 patients (43.2%), responding favorably to it 64 and 62 patients, respectively (68.1% and 65.3%).
During pediatric transport, increased stress level of patients was not observed. The use of sedation during transport was infrequent. The verbal and physical accompaniment can be useful for stress reduction.