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MagicAid is actively engaging in research activities investigating the application of magic-based therapeutic intervention to the field of medicine and healthcare. We have one active project, plan to initiate a new study in the coming months, and have many other planned projects for the future. We welcome interest from medical professionals seeking collaboration in conducting a research study involving magic therapeutic services.

Please contact our MagicAid Research Director, Harrison Pravder, at

Latest Publication
Abstract from peer-reviewed article in Medical Science Educator – January 2022


An Innovative Program Using Magic to Provide Early Clinical Experiences for Preclinical Medical Students: Goals, Experiences, and Results of the MagicAid Program



Harrison D Pravder, David J Elkin, Stephen G Post, Maribeth B Chitkara



Effectively training medical students in compassion, communication, and empathy is essential in fostering a holistic approach to patient care. We sought to address this by implementing an early clinical experience service learning program for medical students in the initial years of their medical education.



Medical students at Stony Brook University initiated, designed, and facilitated the volunteer program, which provides students a framework to learn magic therapy and engage with pediatric patients. The program includes an introductory presentation, training course, and organized bedside sessions with patients. To evaluate the program, a sample of participants partook in a focus group, written questionnaire, and/or online survey.



From 2015 to 2020, 130 students participated in magic therapy rounds, engaging 1391 patients. Nine themes of student benefit emerged from qualitative analysis, including acquisition of familiarity with the hospital and healthcare team, cultivation of communication skills, contribution to improvement of patient affect, development of empathic qualities and techniques, and improvement in psychological health. Students were very satisfied with their experiences and viewed the activity as helpful for patients, parents, staff, and themselves.


The program engaged students in compassionate patient care within a holistic approach to patient care early in training.

Link to article:

Publisher and copyright: Springer Nature


Active Research

The Effect of Magic Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Pediatric Patients During Invasive Procedures (Needle-Related Procedures and Nasopharyngeal Swabs) in the Emergency Department

Principal Investigator: Dr. Carl Kaplan, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Enrollment: 78 pediatric patients and caregivers

The purpose of this study is to examine the use of magic therapy as a distraction technique during semi invasive procedures (such as venipuncture, IV placement, and nasopharyngeal swabs) in the emergency department setting. Specifically, we are assessing the effectiveness of magic therapy in reducing procedure related anxiety and pain. 

Planned Research

Perioperative anxiety alleviation in anesthesiology

Title: The use of magic therapy to relieve perioperative anxiety in pediatric ambulatory surgery.

Planned Enrollment: 150 pediatric patients, aged 4-18 years old

Expected Initiation: 2023


Just like patients in an inpatient pediatric hospital ward feel increased discomfort and anxiety, children undergoing surgery do as well - often to a greater extent. In this study, we will examinine the impacts of magic therapy in relieving perioperative anxiety. We are investigating if magic tricks performed by MagicAid-trained individuals are equally as effective as pre-operative sedation. A successful anxiety reduction could have major implications in cost reduction and improved outcomes in pediatric procedures.

Residency education and communication

Title: Bridging Magic and Medicine: Incorporating Magic Therapy into Resident Education

Planned Enrollment: Up to 144 resident physicians (Pediatrics, Pediatric Dentistry, Emergency, Psychiatry)

Expected Initiation: 2023


Resident physicians often are the frontline medical providers in academic medical centers. Thus, it is of utmost importance for these young physicians to effectively communicate with patients and family members accurately, efficiently, and compassionately. In this project, we seek to assess the impacts of training resident physicians who take care of pediatric patients in the use of magic as a therapeutic intervention. We aim to detect any observable changes in the delivery of empathic healthcare. Study and improvement of magic therapy services provide an evidence-based approach to improve physician delivery of compassionate care, encourage pediatric patient psychological well-being, assist physicians in obtaining pediatric patient cooperation with procedures, and improve the hospitalization experience for patients and their caretakers.

Completed Research

Title: Magic therapy to relieve pediatric patient anxiety and improve the hospitalization experience.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maribeth Chitkara, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Enrollment: 100 pediatric patients, aged 5-16 years old; 90 caregivers; 37 healthcare professionals.


It is not uncommon for hospitalized children to feel increased anxiety and psychological discomfort during a hospitalization. In this ransomized single-blind study, we are examining if magic therapeutic interventions performed by MagicAid-trained medical students are effective in relieving patient and parent anxiety. We are also investigating which magic tricks are most effective. A successful anxiety reduction could provide indications for the use of magic therapeutic intervention in a wide range of medical settings and prior to procedures.


1. ArticleA Magic Therapy Program To Alleviate Anxiety in Pediatric Inpatients (2019). Hospital Pediatrics

2. Poster/Abstract: A randomized, prospective study to evaluate the efficacy of a novel program in magic therapeutic intervention for pre-clinical medical students (2018). Presented at Council on Medical Student Education Annual Meeting, Denver, CO

3. Poster/Abstract: A randomized, prospective study to evaluate the efficacy of a novel program in magic therapy for pre-clinical medical students (2018). Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada Identifier: NCT03308240

Title: Development, evaluation, and impact of the MagicAid medical student interest group

Principal Investigator: Dr. Maribeth Chitkara, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Enrollment: 150 medical students

The first organized MagicAid student group was formed at Stony Brook School of Medicine in 2015. Since that time, the group has grown to include hundreds of medical students trained in magic therapy who have interacted with thousands of patients. The group is self-perpetuating with senior MagicAid medical students teaching younger students its techniques. The program has many goals for students, including: improvement of communication skills, development of empathic character, and early clinical contact. Most of these students engage their first patients as medical students within the context of a magic therapy session. They get introduced to the healthcare team and pivotal players, such as certified Child Life Specialists who are pivotal to the deliverance of pediatric healthcare. This project serves to evaluate the program as it stands today at our original site and to describe its successes and challenges.

Publication: Article, An Innovative Program Using Magic to Provide Early Clinical Experiences for Preclinical Medical Students: Goals, Experiences, and Results of the MagicAid Program (2022). Medical Science Educator

Future Endeavors

1. Applications of magic therapeutic intervention in the pediatric emergency department.

2. Effectiveness of MagicAid training and performance in molding compassionate medical students and physicians.

3. Success of magic therapy as an additional child life therapeutic intervention.

4. Methods of using magic therapeutic intervention in physical therapy and occupational therapy for improving motor function.

5. Using magic therapeutic intervention as a method of social skills therapy in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

6. Magic therapy and service learning early clinical experiences as modalities to help stabilize and improve empathic character among medical students.

1. ArticleBridging Magic and Medicine (2018). The Lancet. 391(10127), 1254-1255.

Additional Publications

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