Reducing stress in hospitalized children


The fear and stress children feel while undergoing hospital procedures can be terrifying and confusing. It can interfere with a child’s ability to heal and communicate with family and doctors.

But research shows that stress and fear can be mitigated. And easily through the use of drawings,

Researchers led by Berith Wennstrom at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden measured cortisol in the saliva of children undergoing surgical treatment. The children were divided in groups. One group experienced conventional care. A second group received additional information on the date of surgery. The third group used a special care model known as “the perioperative dialogue” or PD.

“The research showed that children who received care according to the PD model had lower levels of stress after the surgery and required less pain relieving morphine than children who had received conventional care,” explained Wennstrom. She also supported her findings using the children’s drawings. Compared to drawings made by children in school, the hospital children used weaker pressure on drawing instruments, a smaller range of colors and poor use of the area on the page.

They also interviewed the children. “The children initially attempt to gain control of the situation, and then they experience that they lose this when they become dizzy, for example, from sedatives,” said Wennstrom. To prevent anxiety, it is important to have constant dialogue with the children. The dialogue needs to take place in language the child can understand. Wennstromm concluded, “It is important to minimize stress and the fear of hospital in children before the surgery, and we must view the hospital situation from a child’s perspective, if we are to succeed.”

Source: University of Gothenburg, MedicalNewsToday


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