INTRODUCTION: This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of storytelling and therapeutic play intervention on preoperative anxiety in preschool-age children at a general hospital.
METHODS: This randomized clinical trial involved 102 children admitted for surgery who were randomly assigned to three groups. In terms of inclusion criteria, the first group received storytelling intervention, the second group received therapeutic play, and the control group received routine care from the operating room. Anxiety levels were recorded before and after the interventions based on the Observational Scale of Behavioral DistressRevised. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and the Kruskal Wallis test by using SPSS22 software.
RESULTS: The mean age of the children was 59.75 months, and no significant difference was found between the three studied groups in terms of age (p=0.176); 74.7% of the children were boys and 25.3% were girls. Furthermore, a significant difference existed between the mean scores of anxieties before and after intervention in all three groups; thus, there was a 1.2-unit reduction in anxiety in the therapeutic play group (p<0.001), a 0.6 reduction in the storytelling group (p=0.001), and a 1.2-unit increase in the control group (p<0.00).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The results indicated that both therapeutic play and storytelling were effective in reducing preoperative anxiety in children; nevertheless, therapeutic play was more effective than storytelling. Healthcare providers can use play and storytelling interventions to reduce the anxiety of children and their families before surgery in healthcare centers.