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Pediatr Nurs. 2009 Sep-Oct;35(5):269-76, 303.

Child-reported hospital fears in 4 to 6-year-old children.

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Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Health Care and Social Services, Degree Programme Nursing, Helsinki, Finland.


The aim of this study was to describe hospital-related fears of 4 to 6-year-old children. Data were collected by interviewing 4 to 6-year-old children (N=90) in Finland, who were chosen through purposive sampling in which volunteers were asked to take part in the study. Data were gathered by semi-structured interview, supported by pictures, and reviewed by quantitative and qualitative methods. Results revealed that more than 90% of children said they were afraid of at least one thing in a hospital. Most fears were categorized by nursing interventions, fears of being a patient, and fears caused by the developmental stage of the child. Children also expressed fears caused by the unfamiliar environment or lack of information, child-staff relations, and the physical, social, and symbolic environment. The main result was that hospital care increased the amount of fears in 4 to 6-year-old children. The information is useful in preventing, identifying, and alleviating the hospital fear of healthy or sick children.

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