With numerous schools and daycares requiring negative COVID-19 tests before allowing sick children to return, and families concerned about possible infections, many young children will need to undergo COVID-19 tests that even many adults dread.
University of Guelph psychology professor Meghan McMurtry, who specializes in child clinical and health psychology, says there are ways to make the swab test much more comfortable for children.
McMurtry has studied many methods for preparing children and their families for medical procedures at U of G’s Pediatric Pain, Health and Communication Lab. Her research has focused on exploring the effectiveness of various strategies to help children manage fear and pain when facing tests and procedures.
In a recent Conversation Canada commentary, McMurtry and co-author Prof. Kathryn Birnie from the University of Calgary offered several tips for parents whose children need to be tested for COVID-19.
They include being honest with children and describing in detail what they can expect from the test, while using neutral language. She also recommended reminding children that getting tested for COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily mean they have the virus and that the results will take a few days.
Distracting children during the wait as well as comfort positioning and coaching children to take deep breaths during the swab to help them to stay relaxed are other ideas McMurtry recommended.
McMurtry recently spoke with the Waterloo Region Record on this topic.
She can discuss further ideas about managing procedure-related discomfort and fear in children and is available for interviews.
Prof. Meghan McMurtry