Nursing ETDs


Susan Wechter

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of stress for hospitalized school-age child, seven to nine years of age, through a child-centered draw and tell technique. Over 3 million children are hospitalized every year (NACHRI, 2012). Hospitalization of children is reserved for increasingly complex care. Since the 1960s, it has been well known that hospitalization can be a traumatic experience for children (King & Ziegler, 1981; Thompson, 1986; Vernon, Foley, Simpowicz, & Schulman, 1965; Visintainer & Wolfer, 1975). This experience elicits feelings of fear, uncertainty, pain and discomfort that can affect a child's healing, behavior and health outcomes (Hopia, Tomlinson, Paavilainen, Paivi, 2004). Although the psychosocial impact of hospitalization is evident, it has not been fully explored from a child's perspective. Thirty child participants in a large Midwest children's hospital were interviewed through a child-centered 'draw and tell' technique (Driessnack, 2006) to elicit their perceptions of stress in the context of hospitalization. Interpretive description approach was applied (Thorne, 2008) .The results of this study revealed 14 themes for building a conceptualized framework. Five important messages from children are communicated to professional caregivers in the hospital: a) stress for children is expressed through their fears, worries, discomforts and sadness; b) children should be listened to, as they have something important to say; c) children want to know what is expected of them and be informed of what they need to do; d) children identify simple things health care providers can do to help them during hospitalization e) the ultimate relief of stress for children in the hospital is going home and children want to know a timeline what they need to do to go home. Discovering the meaning of stress for the hospitalized child launches a research trajectory addressing the remedies for psychosocial trauma for this population.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mendelson, Cindy

Second Committee Member

Beth, Baldwin Tigges

Third Committee Member

Thorne, Sally


Children, Stress, Hospitalization, Draw and Tell, Child Agency



Document Type