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What Do Kids in The Hospital Really Want?

What matters most to children staying in the hospital? A new study finds that the two strongest desires of hospitalized kids are feeling safe and being able to get to sleep at night.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) School of Nursing in Australia developed the Needs of Children Questionnaire (NCQ), the first of its kind to measure children’s self-reported psychosocial, physical and emotional needs in pediatric wards. They assessed 193 school-aged children in pediatric settings in Australia and New Zealand.

Lead researcher Dr. Mandie Foster says the study fills a gap in our understanding of how children are feeling in hospital settings.

“Historically the literature on children’s needs and experiences within health care settings have been largely limited to surveys completed by adults answering for children,” said Foster, a nursing lecturer, research scholar and experienced pediatric nurse. “To our knowledge, no instrument has been available to assess the perception of the needs of school-aged children during a hospital stay.”

According to the findings, the children identified their most important needs as:

  • “to know I am safe and will be looked after;”
  • “to get enough sleep at night;”
  • “that staff listen to me;”
  • “to have places my parents can go to for food and drinks;”
  • “to have my mum, dad or family help care for me.”

Foster said it was important to let the hospitalized children speak for themselves.

“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,” said Foster.

“Being listened to and understood can give children an added sense of confidence about the situation they find themselves in. And from a medical point of view, child self-reports are essential to inform healthcare delivery, policy, research and theory development.”

Foster said children’s needs are often interconnected to those of their parents, so if parents feel informed, valued and cared for, then their children are more likely to feel relaxed.

“From a child’s perspective, feeling safe means having mum and dad here to help care for me, smiling nurses, special time spent with me just talking, not treats, just time to get better,” she said.

The study is published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Source: Edith Cowan University

What Do Kids in The Hospital Really Want?

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2019). What Do Kids in The Hospital Really Want?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 3 Jul 2019 (Originally: 3 Jul 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 3 Jul 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.