In the United States alone, more than 3 million children are hospitalized yearly. That's 3 million children who have to leave their homes and stay in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people every single year.
Researchers from the Edith Cowan University wanted to evaluate children's psychosocial, physical and emotional needs during their hospital stays. So, they conducted a study to determine what exactly children feel they need most while in the hospital.
By developing the 'Needs of Children Questionnaire' (NCQ), researchers were able to determine that what sick kids actually need isn't asking too much. By assessing 193 children using the NCQ, they hope to encourage hospitals to start listening to what the children are saying because all too often, we as adults feel we know what's best for them, even though in reality we don't always.
Dr. Mandie Foster, who was the lead researcher in the study says that "historically, the literature on children's needs and experiences within healthcare settings have been largely limited to surveys completed by adults answering for children."
She also says that the NCQ was developed as a way to put the children on the front lines of their health and happiness, honouring the United Nations Convention's views on children's basic rights.
When the researchers compiled their answers that they received from the children, they found some common responses. To the surprise of everyone, none of the children chose materialistic items.
ScienceDaily reports that they identified their most important needs as feeling safe and looked after, getting enough sleep at night, having the staff hear them when they speak, having food available for their parents to purchase, and to have their parents or family involved in their care.
Dr. Foster makes an excellent point when she says, "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."
She goes on saying that allowing children to be part of the decision making by just being heard can boost their confidence and make them happier overall during their stay and treatment. Dr. Foster also stresses that children don't want to always see doctors and nurses constantly checking their vitals or assessing their symptoms. A lot of the time they just want someone who smiles, and who will talk and spend time with them as they get better.
This study, 'Development and Validation of the Needs of Children Questionnaire (NCQ): An instrument to measure children's self-reported needs in hospital' was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.