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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 17:34 EDT

Clowns ease anxiety in young patients: study

October 3, 2005

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A clown in the operating room may relax

anxious children who are about to undergo surgery, but the entertainer has to learn to keep out of the way, Italian researchers said on Monday.

A study of 40 children between 4 months and 3 years old whowere accompanied by at least one parent prior to minor surgery

found having a clown present significantly reduced anxiety levels for both child and parent. Three out of five children suffer anxiety before surgery, according to the report published in the journal Pediatrics.

Clowns succeeded in distracting the children until the administration of anesthesia, but apparently annoyed doctors and nurses.

“The questionnaire for health professionals indicated that the clowns were a benefit to the child, but the majority of staff was opposed to continuing the program because of perceived interference with the procedures of the operating room,” wrote study author Laura Vagnoli of Anna Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence.