Videoconferencing With Family Eases Stress Among Pediatric Patients, Finds Study

A new study in Pediatrics suggests allowing hospitalized children to videoconference with family members both improves the patient experience and reduces stress, promoting healing.

A program at UC Davis Children's Hospital provides patients with laptops, webcams and a secure Internet connection so they can communicate with their parents and other family members. While anecdotal evidence has suggested the program has a positive effect on patients, a team of researchers conducted a study to quantify the benefits.

Researchers studied 367 children hospitalized for four or more days. The intervention group of 232 patients used the Family-Link videoconferencing program, the control group of 135 did not. A survey about their child's stress level was administered to parents and guardians at admission and discharge for all patients in the study.

Results showed stress levels among patients who used Family-Link were reduced by 37 percent.

"This study shows that we have another tool to help children during their hospital stays," said lead study author Nikki Yang, a PhD candidate at UC Davis. "The improvement in stress scores shows that Family-Link is really helping many children and might possibly be improving outcomes."

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