Preparation Through Modeling

Modeling is based on Bandura's (1977) social learning theory, which asserts that individuals learn by observing the behaviors of others and outcomes of these behaviors. Through modeling, the child may be introduced to a peer who has already gone through the same medical event and can demonstrate effective coping skills. Modeling can also be provided either through watching a film or by witnessing another child going through the same planned procedure. The effectiveness of modeling appears to be enhanced when the model is of similar age and ethnicity to the patient (Melamed et al. 1976). Modeling is likely to be particularly useful with younger children who are better able to absorb visible demonstrations of the information rather than spoken explanations (Jaaniste et al. 2007).

Although filmed modeling can be of great benefit, it is not uncommon for children to display increased anxiety subsequent to watching a preparation film. In a study examining the use of filmed modeling to prepare children for surgery, Melamed and Siegal (1975) found a significant increase in anxiety after the children watched the film. The anxiety significantly decreased, however, following a thorough interactive preparation session conducted by hospital staff. This finding suggests that film modeling should be viewed as a supplement to live interactive preparation that provides emotional support and verbal explanations. Merely watching a film does not provide the child with the active involvement that is necessary for promoting learning and memory.

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