Fort Worth, Texas,
05:39 PM

Cook Children’s Comfort Menu to Ease Pain, Anxiety for Children Getting a Shot

It’s that time of year again. With flu season upon us, many parents are breaking the news to their kids that it’s time for “a shot.”

It’s also a time you likely dread as much as your kids, knowing how helpless you feel when they are anxious and you can’t seem to make it better.

You aren’t alone. Studies have shown that some parents are so concerned about their child’s pain while getting a shot they are refusing to get them vaccinated.

One survey of pediatricians (2013) found that 75% of parents who opted out of immunizations for their child listed pain and discomfort as the most common reason for vaccine refusal.

The pediatricians at Cook Children’s understand the fear of needles and that’s why they are taking steps to make the process of getting a shot as pain free as possible.

Throughout primary care offices and specialty clinics, Cook Children’s medical staff are using the “Comfort Menu” to help relieve the anxiety and pain associated with vaccines and other painful procedures. As part of a system-wide initiative to involve parents in pain management for their children, the Comfort Menu serves as a visual tool to show parents and staff there are ways to help their children.

The Comfort Menu provides information on many forms of pain relief, including breastfeeding, sugar water, distraction, comfort holds, cold spray and numbing cream. Many pediatricians also provide “Buzzy,” which is a friendly-looking device that comes in the form of a bee or lady bug and can trick the body’s nerves with cold and vibration in order to reduce pain associated with needlesticks.

Parents also have the option to ask their doctor for something they know helps their child, even if it isn’t on the menu. "Allowing children to play an active role during the procedure process can often minimize fears and encourage positive coping," said Child Life Manager Janis Smith

The Comfort Menu is currently being used in the medical center, most of the specialty clinics, every urgent care facility, and a handful of the pediatrician offices, including:

The Pain Management Service at Cook Children’s is working to expand the use of “The Comfort Menu” to the rest of the Cook Children’s Health Care System. The goal is for families and patients to see this menu wherever they go. It is a consistent message to our patients that we care about them and want to do whatever we can do to make this process as comfortable as possible.

Artee Gandhi, M.D., medical director of the Pain Management Service has been instrumental in bringing this menu to the medical system. As a mother and physician she understands what it is like to have her own children get an IV or a flu shot, or an immunization.

“The goal of the comfort menu is to engage with families and patients, to have a conversation, and to let them know we as providers understand that things like immunizations cause pain and anxiety, and we are working to minimize that as much as possible,” Dr. Gandhi said.

Child life specialist and Comfort Menu Program Coordinator, Whitney Brosey, is responsible for working with different clinics and teaching providers on the benefits of comfort positioning, distraction, breast feeding, cold spray, etc. She understands the perspective of the provider and the parent and advocates for both to support the patient as much as possible.

Kara Starnes, D.O., medical director of Urgent Care Services at Cook Children’s, says that using the Comfort Menu gives parents a chance to take control of their child’s care and let them choose how they can help their child.

“I always ask the parents to choose what item on the comfort menu they think will help their child most,” Dr. Starnes said. “They know their child better than I do, so they are going to know what will be most helpful.”

- By Libby Collins

More About the Cook Children's Pain Management Program

Every child experiences pain differently. Whether your child is experiencing pain related to a medical procedure, an injury, or a chronic condition, there is one thing they all have in common, a desire to feel better. At Cook Children's, our Pain Management team are experts in diagnosing and treating pain in infants, children, teens and young adults.

Our rapidly growing pain center is quickly becoming one of the leading centers for newborns, children, adolescents and young adults with acute or chronic pain. At Cook Children's, our goal is to work closely with our patients, their families and referring physicians to determine the best plan of treatment for the one thing that matters most: your child's well-being. Click to learn more.

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