Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

DeVane, Benjamin

First Committee Member

Ankenmann, Robert

Second Committee Member

Schuh, Kathy

Third Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy

Fourth Committee Member

McCarthy, Ann Marie


This research aims to compare how adults use handheld and widescreen digital devices to distract children during painful medical procedures. Levels of pain and distress are compared to assess the effectiveness of each device medium. The behaviors of the adults using these devices were also examined in order to determine the quality of the distraction provided. Additionally, the observed behaviors of the adults are documented and analyzed to determine if the rates of specific action types are predictors of pain, distress, and quality of distraction provided.

The results of this work show that children reported less pain when distracted by handheld devices compared to widescreens. Although children reported less pain with handheld devices they received lower quality distraction compared to when widescreen devices were used. Two types of actions were positively associated with higher quality distraction: those that demonstrated the adults’ interest in the devices and those that provided support to children interacting with the devices. Adults using widescreen devices performed these two types of actions more frequently than those using handheld devices.

These findings indicate that when adults use handheld devices they tend to reduce pain and distress compared to widescreens. However, widescreen devices are more likely encourage actions that are linked to higher quality distraction. This interdependency of devices and coaching ability led to an interpretation of findings that presents a new theory called mediPLAYtion. MediPLAYtion recommends specific actions that promote cooperative engagement using digital devices for reducing pain during medical procedures.


child life, digital media, distraction, distraction coach, distress, pain


xiii, 183 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 175-183).


Copyright © 2018 Benjamin Jay Miller

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2019