Study: Children's perceptions of their hospital stays differ from parents'

Pediatric patients often disagree with their parents about the child's experience during hospital stays, according to a study published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Study authors examined over 6,200 surveys distributed across National Health Service hospitals in the U.K. in 2014. The survey targeted the experiences of hospital patients between ages 8 and 15.

The surveys contained a section for parents and section for youth, which could be completed by young patients themselves, by parents or by the patients and their parents together. Approximately 60 percent of the patients completed the youth section of the survey themselves, while 28 percent responded jointly with their parents.

Although the researchers found parents and their children tended to agree on the quality of pain relief the child received and the overall quality of the hospital experience, they tended to disagree on the quality of communication with hospital staff, involvement in decision-making, feeling safe and having adequate privacy.

"It's increasingly recognized that the best healthcare is based on a partnership between health professionals, patients and their families," lead study author Dr. Dougal Hargreaves of the University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, told Reuters.

Patient surveys should include children over age 8 and the questionnaires should be tailored for pediatric patients, the study authors suggest. The study authors are developing tools to share decision-making between children and parents and are working to create "child/young person-friendly" versions of patient experience surveys across various healthcare settings. 

"Being in the hospital can be an unpleasant and frightening experience for a child," Dr. Hargreaves said. "Listening to them shows that the way they feel is important to us, and it allows us to help them through their hospital experience."

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