Conducting a successful clinical exam of the head and neck in children requires establishing initial friendly eye contact with the child as well as making a quick assessment of his or her mood. These are two tips that experts agree can help physicians examining children between the ages of 2 and 6 years.
Researchers surveyed a group of pediatric otolaryngologists to obtain a consensus on practical tips to help medical students and physicians examine young children (Int J Ped Otorhinolaryngol. 2016;86:233-239).
The experts completed two rounds of questionnaires aimed at obtaining tips on how to approach children in the clinic and on how to rate the frequency of use and estimated value of these tips. Of the 43 tips rated, several emerged that showed consensus among the experts.
Jacques Leclerc, MD, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec in Québec City, Canada, and lead author of the study, advised physicians to review the tips and use what they are comfortable with.
“The more versatile you get with your approaches, the more you will be able to have the child cooperate and obtain a happy ending,” he said.
Top Tips for Conducting a Pediatric Head and Neck Exam
1. Establish initial friendly eye contact with the child.
2. Assess the child’s mood.
3. Speak to the child before beginning the exam.
4. Speak in a soft voice.
5. Remain calm.
6. Avoid abrupt movements.
7. Explain each step of the exam to the child.
8. Show any instruments to the child before beginning the exam, and let the child touch them if he or she wishes.
9. Avoid inflicting pain as much as possible.