Helping Children Overcome Fear in a Medical Setting: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals .
. Leicester (NC) , The Wellness Training Center , 2007 ; 205 pp; $18.95 (softcover) .
Helping Children Overcome Fear in a Medical Setting: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals is aimed generically at all health care professionals and parents. The author shares his version of “exactly how to calm a child who is facing medical treatment.” The book is organized into 14 chapters, each with a summary. The chapter titles include “Use the Energy of Fear to Your Advantage,”“See the Phantom in the Phobia,” and “Breathe in Tranquility.” I found the most useful chapters to be the last two: “Additional Suggestions” and “Summary of Techniques.” The book is written in the first person, there is a quotation before and after every chapter, and there are plenty of boxed text messages. There is no index or bibliography. A website (http://www.robluka.com/) supports sales of the book and details press contacts. One can request the author for a personal appearance through his website.
This book is primarily a series of personal anecdotes. The emphasis is on the author’s own successes. Empathy, empowerment, love, and confidence are repeated themes. The author advises us to “connect all your energy centers to your heart,”“visualize your physical tension leaving you before entering a child’s room,” and “intentionally create confusion for the mind to redirect negative thinking.”
There are also some common sense and widely recognized and practiced suggestions, such as using distraction, encouraging the child’s imagination by telling him or her a story, creating a nonthreatening environment, interacting with the child at eye level, and addressing the child first when entering a room. These are useful reminders, and many health care workers who have contact with children already use them repeatedly and successfully. The author makes the additional valid point that children should not be labeled by the behaviors of their families. It would have been useful to include success stories from other health care workers not personally connected with the author. Pictures are limited to a few snapshots of patients outside of the clinical environment. The only clinical diagrams are a series of line drawings adapted from Diabetes Care for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers by Jean Betschart-Roemer (Wiley, 1998).
A literature review of what is known about reducing pain and fear in children would have broadened the scope and applicability of this book. The author is clearly a skilled provider and is proud and inspired by his work. Unfortunately, his reliance on personal anecdotes limits applicability of this work to others.