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Can reassurance hurt?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Can you remember how many times your dentist has reassured you, for example, during an anaesthetic injection? Do you suspect that the phrase
from the dentist ‘It won’t hurt’ only serves as a warning that it is going to be
painful, even though the dentist appears very genuine in their remark? Have you
tried to reassure your child or a family member, for example, in the waiting room before an injection?
Perhaps you wonder whether the ‘don’t worry’ type of reassurance has much of an effect in reducing the anxiety of your loved ones. As you do your best to
promote comfort or reduce distress, maybe you ponder whether it would be more effective to use reassuring statements more frequently, over a longer period of time or at key moments? What other factors might influence the effect of reassurance provision to reduce patient anxiety? For example, does reassurance benefit only the anxious rather than the non-anxious child? Will the nature of the procedure (painful or non-painful) make a difference?
These questions form the focus of this article. We will review the evidence
on the counterintuitive link between adult reassurance and child distress from the pain management literature to procedures of a less aversive nature. We will also highlight the latest research including appropriate timing of reassurance
provision in reducing child distress.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-845
Number of pages4
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

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