No one enjoys a hospital day, but when it comes to sick children the experience is one that’s far from the comforts of home. While past research has looked at how parents feel their children view hospital experiences, rarely does anyone ask the kids themselves.

Recent research from the Edith Cowan University’s School of Nursing is one of the first to evaluate what kids themselves want in a hospital. And what did the study find?

photo: Snapwire via Pexels

The researchers assessed 193 school-aged children in Australia and New Zealand, using the answers to develop the “Needs of Children Questionnaire” or NCQ. The questionnaire will help to measure hospitalized children’s psychological, physical and emotional needs.

Lead researcher, Dr. Mandie Foster, said of the NCQ, “Historically the literature on children’s needs and experiences within healthcare settings have been largely limited to surveys completed by adults answering for children.” Foster also added, “Development of the NCQ is part of an international movement to place children as central to care delivery, which honors the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

If you’re wondering what the children in the study identified as their most important needs, “To know I am safe and will be looked after” topped the list. Along with safety, the children in the study also said sleeping well at night, a staff that listens to them, a place for their parents to eat and having parents help to care for them were important.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, can help both children and healthcare providers. Foster noted, “As adults, we often make assumptions about children’s needs and wants, but hospitals can be a scary and unfamiliar environment for many children and we shouldn’t assume we know how they are feeling.” She continued, “From a medical point of view, child self-reports are essential to inform healthcare delivery, policy, research and theory development.”

—Erica Loop



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