The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences in health-care settings children report being afraid of. A 29-item Likert-type questionnaire was developed based on interviews with 140 school-age children. Another sample of 84 children was then administered the Child Medical Fear Scale (CMFS) in a school setting. Findings reveal that medical fear scores, in general, declined with age in this group of children. There were no significant differences in overall fear scores for children of different age groups. However, younger children did rate certain items related to intrusive procedures as most fearful. There were no strong, significant relationships between reported fear levels and gender, race, or other sociodemographic variables. Further study using the tool with hospitalized and chronically ill children is suggested. Recommendations for use of the CMFS in clinical practice include use of the scale to assess an individual child's fear level prior to providing preparation as well as its use as evaluation instrument to determine the effectiveness of various preparation programs.
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