In spite of the fact that emergency admission is the most common form of hospitalization for young children, as well as containing the greatest potential for trauma, almost no reference has been made to it in the psychological literature on pediatric hospitalization. To explore the theoretical and practical feasibility of research in this area, a pilot study was designed to investigate the reactions of a sample of children, parents, and staff to the first six hours of emergency hospitalization, compared with those of a similar sample to elective admission. Sixteen children (eight in each group) aged 11 to 48 months were selected on a time-sample basis from the patient population of a large, metropolitan, pediatric hospital and were followed by trained observors using a specially designed observation schedule. The results indicated that, as expected, emergency does constitute an even greater stress for children, parents, and staff that the already stressful situation of elective admission. In both conditions however, the results were more complex and more disturbing than anticipated. The implications of these findings, as well as suggestions for further research, are discussed.
In an attempt to reduce the harmful emotional effects of separation for young children, hospitals in recent years have liberalized visiting hours, but parents have not taken advantage of their new privileges. The study described here sought to increase mothers' participation in their children's hospitalization by overcoming some of the psychological barriers believed to exist. The mothers of 48 children aged 1 to 5, to be admitted for elective surgery to a large, metropolitan pediatric hospital, constituted the primary sample and were divided into experimental and control groups. Mothers in the experimental group had an extra half-hour session in a pre-admission interview focusing on visiting, and specific suggestions were made about frequency and timing of visits, as well as the role of the mother during her visits. During the experimental period weekly meetings were held with the nursing staff to enlist their support for this change in visiting patterns. Results indicate that duration of visits, timing of visits, and behavior during them were all significantly modified for the experimental group of mothers. In contrast, the nurses did not significantly change their relationship with the mothers or the children. Clinical possibilities and limitations of such a program are discussed.