Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Harkness, Gail A.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Nursing


Children--Medical examinations--Psychological aspects


The purpose of this study was to determine if the observable responses of toddlers 14 to 19 months of age during a routine physical examination were less negative when they had received a play preparati period before the examination than toddlers the same age who did not receive that preparation. An ordinal response scale was employed to evaluate the young toddlers' expressions and behaviors during five specific procedures of their physical examination. Demographic information was also collected. The setting for the study was the office of one pediatrician in a city of 33,000 located in a rural setting. The sample included 40 toddlers between the ages of 14 months and 19 months as they were presented at the physician's office by their parents or guardians for a routine physical examination. The young toddlers were randomly assigned to the experimental or control groups resulting in 20 subjects in each group. The experimental group received a five to seven minute play preparation period before their physical examination This period included play with a stethoscope, otoscope, tongue blade, flashlight and a doll. The responses demonstrated during the play preparation period were: (1) auscultation of the heart, (2) ear examination with the otoscope, (3) throat inspection with a tongue blade and flashlight, (4) abdominal palpation of internal organs, and (5) leg structure assessment. The young toddlers were scored on an ordinal scale as to their expression and behavior after each of the five physical examination procedures that had been demonstrated were initiated. When the data were analyzed, it was determined that although there was a trend toward the responses of the experimental group being less negative, the differences between the two groups were not statistically significant. If young toddlers can be taught or supported so that their responses are less negative during physical examinations, the toddlers and their parents or guardians would experience less stress. * It is recommended that further studies be conducted in regard to toddlers' ability to reason, their ability to transfer learning experiences and apply knowledge, and their ability to learn immediately prior to stressful situations.


Bibliography: pages 44-47


vii, 51 pages




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