Attention Bias for Threatening Information in Children Following a Distressing Medical Procedure

Reginald David Vandervord Nixon*, Neil Brewer, Anna Catherine Mckinnon, Kate Cameron, Jemma Bray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Attention bias is common in adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but is less studied in children. Children (n=22) who experienced a potentially distressing procedure in an outpatient clinic (removal of K-wires from orthopaedic fractures) and a group of medically unwell children (illness group; n=27) were compared with healthy controls (n=32). Children's baseline level of PTS symptoms were indexed prior to the medical procedure, and again at 1-week follow-up. Immediately after the K-wire removal, children completed a dot probe task using two categories of target words (medical threatening and emotionally threatening). While K-wire children showed an overall bias away from negative words relative to healthy controls, the illness group did not significantly differ from healthy controls. Attention bias in K-wire and illness groups was unrelated to later PTS symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-231
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention bias
  • Children
  • Dot probe
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Post-traumatic stress


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