Medical clowns ease anxiety and pain perceived by children undergoing allergy prick skin tests

A. Goldberg, T. Stauber, O. Peleg, P. Hanuka, L. Eshayek, R. Confino-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Intervention of medical clowns (MC) during various medical procedures performed in children has been used to relieve anxiety and pain. Their role in allergy skin testing has never been evaluated.

Objective: To evaluate whether MC can diminish pain and anxiety perceived by children undergoing allergy skin prick tests (SPT).

Methods: In a prospective, randomized, controlled, and blinded study, children undergoing SPT were or were not accompanied by MC. All parents and children ≥8 years completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) before and after SPT. Videotapes recorded during the procedure were scored for anxiety (m-YPAS) for all children and for pain (FLACC) for children 2-7 years old by a psychologist who was unaware of the MC's presence. After SPT, children ≥8 years completed a visual analog score (VAS) for pain.

Results: Ninety-one children (mean age 8.2 years, M/F = 54/37) were recruited of whom 45 were accompanied by clowns. A significant reduction in state-STAI was found in the clowns group, in both parents and children, when compared with the regular group (26.9 ± 6.6 and 32.3 ± 10.0; P = 0.004, and 27.1 ± 4.2 and 34.3 ± 7.6; P = 0.002, respectively). Both m-YPAS and FLACC were reduced in the clowns group compared with the regular one. In the clowns group, m-YPAS positively correlated with both VAS and FLACC (P = 0.000 and 0.002, respectively). m-YPAS was positively correlated with FLACC in the regular group (P = 0.000).

Conclusion: Medical clowns significantly decrease the level of anxiety perceived by both children undergoing allergy SPT and their parents, as well as the pain perceived by young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1372-1379
Number of pages8
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2014


  • Anxiety
  • Medical clowns
  • Pain
  • Skin prick test


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