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Different methods can reduce hospital fear in children
Date:12/20/2011

Undergoing surgery can be a terrifying experience for a child. But stress and fear, and the use of pain relief after the procedure, can be reduced with simple means: drawings, continuity and dialogue. This has been shown by research at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Berith Wennstrm presents in her thesis interviews with children describing how they experienced being in hospital and undergoing surgery. The thesis also presents work in which, for example, saliva samples from 93 children aged between 5 and 11 years have been analysed, to measure the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol.

Special model

The children were assigned to one of three groups: children in the first group were taken care of in a conventional manner before the surgery, those in the second group received additional information of what was to happen on the day of the operation, and those in the third group were taken care of according to a special model known as "the perioperative dialogue" (PD).

Lower levels of stress

"The research showed than children who received care according to the PD model had lower levels of stress after the surgery and required less pain relieving morphine that children who had received conventional care", says Berith Wennstrm.

Unique experiment

The thesis presents also a unique experiment using a method based on analysing children's fear of hospital through drawings. Comparing the drawings of children in school with those in hospital allowed such features as a weak pen pressure, the use of few colours and poor use of the area on the page to be coupled with an increased anxiety in children who were to undergo day surgery.

Unpredictable situation

Interviews with children aged 6-9 years before and after day surgery are presented in the thesis. These interviews show that the children often feel compelled into an unpredictab
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Contact: Berith Wennstrm
berith.wennstroem@telia.com
46-738-001-602
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert  

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