Past Medical Experience

The adage often used in psychiatry that "past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior" is highly relevant in the context of procedural distress. Specifically, the experience of distress during a medical procedure has been found to be predictive of distress during future procedures (Frank et al. 1995). In a study investigating the relationship between medical experience and responses during a medical examination and intervention, Dahlquist et al. (1986) found that children with previous negative medical experiences demonstrated more behavioral distress than children with previous positive or neutral medical experiences. This suggests that children with a prior negative medical experience are at risk for experiencing increased distress. Conversely, a positive childhood medical experience may lead to less fear and more positive functioning during subsequent medical encounters.

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