Children’s experiences of stress and coping during hospitalization: A mixed-methods examination

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Department or Administrative Unit

Child Development and Family Science

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Children often experience hospitalization as stressful. To better understand children’s experiences, this current study involved interviews with and assessments of 17 children who were currently admitted at a U.S. children’s hospital. On average, they reported low levels of distress on the Facial Affective Scale (FAS) (M = .34) and moderate levels of anxiety on the Child Drawing: Hospital (M = 107.01). Results revealed themes in children’s experiences including stressors in the hospital, such as pain, disruptions to normalcy, and uncertainty. Children also reported factors that contributed to coping, including social support from parents and peers, and distractions from the medical routine such as leaving their hospital room. When children were grouped into clusters based on coping, those who were younger and who had received child life specialist services tended to be coping well. Regardless of understanding of diagnosis, those who demonstrated high levels of stress (distress and anxiety) in assessments tended to be categorized as not coping well. The findings inform interventions to support children’s coping during hospitalization.


This article was originally published in Journal of Child Health Care. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Child Health Care


© The Author(s) 2022