Impact of echocardiography on parental anxiety in children with innocent murmurs

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Aim: Heart murmurs are not uncommon in childhood. Once noted, they may induce appreciable parental anxiety even if the likely diagnosis is that of an innocent murmur. This study aimed to clarify if a confirmatory echocardiogram may increase parental understanding and reduce their anxiety even though the murmur had been diagnosed as being innocent by an experienced paediatric cardiologist. Methods: Parents of children referred to a paediatric cardiologist for evaluation of a murmur were asked to complete a State Trait Anxiety Inventory after the cardiologist's clinical diagnosis of an innocent murmur. The questionnaire was repeated after cross-sectional echocardiography to assess if there was a change in the parental understanding regarding their child's murmur and to review their level of anxiety. Results: Over the time available for the study, 62 parents were recruited consecutively wherever possible. Forty-eight (77%) completed both questionnaires. There was a reduction in the state anxiety level following the echocardiogram in parents who exhibited a high (n = 23) or even a low-level trait anxiety (n = 25) (P < 0.05). Enhanced parental understanding of the diagnosis was also demonstrated. Conclusions: Reduced parental anxiety and an increase in their understanding after echocardiography suggested that the procedure may have an important role in the management of innocent murmurs even after the initial reassurance by a paediatric cardiologist.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • childhood
  • echocardiography
  • innocent murmur
  • paediatric cardiology
  • parental anxiety

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