The Effects of Hospitalization on Children


Nursing research is a terminology which explains the facts used in support of nursing as a practice. This research was carried out in the pursuit of finding solutions to the research question ‘the effects of hospitalization on children’

Discussion of the research problem

In this case, this research focused on investigating whether parents experienced high levels of anxiety when separated from their hospitalized children. It was found that, hospitalization was an unpleasant experience which caused trauma in hospitalized children especially when they were separated from their parents. In this case, parental company becomes very vital as it helps the children to deal with the situation and be able to overcome pain and nervousness. Based on this, a number of observations were made by nurses where some said that children cried and as a result became more difficult than not, to soothe them during their induction at the hospital. This as a result made nurses to question whether parents hospitalized together with their children; would help in minimizing distress among the children. Based on this, the child’s distress would increase the parent’s level of anxiety since she would be thinking about their hospitalized child all the time (Howe, 1994).

It can be argued that, children feel insecure when their mother is absent because of the attachments developed with them, in the child’s life. Based on this, the child felt more anxious than not when her mother was not present, which led to crying, clinginess, silence and unwillingness to interact with other people present even if they seemed familiar to the child. In this case, this situation affected the hospitalized child and also increased the mother’s and the whole family’s level of anxiety which generated uncertain feeling based on the insecurities to do with the capability to have functional control over the child. In addition, hospitalized children needed to maintain a continued relationship with the parents especially her mother in this case. By doing this, the child would not be distressed as the mother would comfort her when she cries; which was difficult for nurses. Based on this, it can be seen that parental accompaniment improved the overall quality of care to hospitalized children, by reducing the amount of pain experienced by the child since any anxiety worsened the pain experienced than earlier before (Howe, 1994).

Literature review

From the literature reviewed, studies showed that, the developmental stages of an infant who is hospitalized are affected when the mother-child interaction is broken; as indicated by Dr. Calvin F. Settlage in his article ‘The Infant in the Hospital’. Further, studies have described certain needs required by young people as they move from childhood to adulthood which may be affected by hospitalization. According to a research carried out by ‘the Queen’s University at Kingston’, more than 20% of the children hospitalized experienced some level of ‘behavioral or emotional’ trouble. Additionally, lengthened or frequent hospitalization raised the probability of later harms. On the other hand, younger kids are mostly affected by hospitalization when compared to older ones.

Further, in situations where a parent was not able to accompany her child to the hospital, it was advisable for her to visit the doctor’s office before any test was conducted so as to make the child exposed to the situation beforehand. In this case, a nurse should explain to the child that her parent is waiting for her in order to reduce her anxiety and pain. In addition to this, nurses were supposed to administer anti-anxiety medications to the child and advice the parent to change parenting techniques (Howe, 1994).

Illustration of personal ideas about the problem

In agreement with the above ideas, my position would be to encourage parents to accompany their hospitalized children as they require emotional support. It was clear from previous studies that parents experienced fear, distress as well as anxiety when their children were hospitalized. At the same time, the children’s experience towards hospitalization depended on the amount of support they received from their parents and the nursing staff. Further, a research carried out at ‘The South Thames Retrieval Service’ showed that stress among the hospitalized children were in most cases influenced by parental factors than disease relentlessness (Howe, 1994).

Discussion of research utilization and evidence based nursing practice

On the other hand in order to reduce child’s anxiety, nurses should understand the quality care for the child by identifying and measuring it. In this case, as stated by ‘Dougherty & Simpson, 2004 in an article titled ‘Measuring the Quality of Children’s Healthcare’ and Ferris & Iezzoni, 2004’ in an article titled ‘Risk Adjustment for Pediatric Quality Indicators’ in a journal called ‘Pediatric’ Volume 113 Issue No. 1, quality care measures taken toward children were less as compared to those taken towards adults. It can be argued that, researches conducted on the importance of the presence of a parent during the child’s hospitalization created awareness to the public, on the anxieties and distress experienced by the hospitalized child in the absence of their parents. Before this, parents were supposed to leave the responsibility of taking care of the children to the nursing staff. More so, hospital visiting hours were strictly restrictive and in some hospitals were non existent reducing parent’s support towards their children (Gofman, Buchman & Schade, 1957) (Howe, 1994).

Further, studies have shown that during the induction of anesthesia and or during cardiopulmonary resuscitation which were situations involving risks to the child’s life, parents were not allowed to accompany their children as they would increase their anxiety and pain. On the other hand, when inter-hospital transfer of critically ill children; parents were advised not to accompany them so as to prevent induction of stress in both the parent and the hospital staff. In addition, in cases where parents were not allowed to accompany their critically ill children during transfer; was helpful to the hospital staff from diverting their attention from the child. This would have resulted from the parent becoming unwell or behaving aggressively. Still on the same point; there were in some cases inadequate space in the ambulance where the patient was being transferred with; hence leading to separation of parents with their ill children as observed in a research carried out in ‘The South Thames Retrieval Service in UK. As a matter of fact, when a critically ill child was not accompanied by her parent, the hospital staff had a good opportunity to create a rapport with the parent on some aspects such as the child’s illness, the child’s medical history and what the parent was required to experience when the child was in the intensive care unit (Howe, 1994).

Discussion on how the findings supported the proposed solution

Moreover, when supporting children and parents to cope with hospitalization anxiety, there were a number of factors which needed to be put into consideration. In this case, these factors included personal, interpersonal and environmental variables. Based on this, personal factors were the child’s experience to anxiety while interpersonal factors were the maternal experience of anxiety. Lastly, the nurses’ reactions towards the hospitalized child constituted the environmental factors. In addition, communication between the parent and the child was vital as it increased the attachment and sense of security (Howe, 1994).

Despite the fact that mothers’ presence in critical operations like anesthesia increased their anxiety and fear, the effects of hospitalization were indicated to be harmful to children as they had few and weak means in coping with distress associated with separation from parents. It can be argued that, since separation of parent and the hospitalized child developed much pain and anxiety to the child and the parent; healthcare should prioritize both the child’s and the parent’s experiences in order to reduce the anxiety and pain they experienced (Howe, 1994).


In conclusion, nurses should react positively towards the parents who accompany their children to the hospital and at the same time adopt a mind-set which would be helpful as far as mother’s participation in the care of her in-patient child is concerned. Based on this, hospital staff is required to come up with positive mind-set that is not based exclusively on personal qualities but on the care given to the child. In this case therefore, education to the public, hospital staff and parents of the in-patient children is vital. Therefore, hospital staff should provide humanized care and guideline to the parents on how to cope up with the anxiety (Howe, 1994).


Howe, J. (1994). Hospital Book. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publisher

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