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Authors

  1. Ramsdell, Katharine Donlon MS
  2. Morrison, Melissa BA
  3. Kassam-Adams, Nancy PhD
  4. Marsac, Meghan L. PhD

Abstract

Children who sustain injuries are at risk for experiencing traumatic stress reactions. Few studies have obtained detailed, qualitative information regarding children's and parents' own understanding of their experiences during the peritrauma period. Understanding children's injury and early hospital experiences is crucial to inform the development of early interventions during the peritrauma period, which speak to these concerns. The primary purpose of this study was to understand child and parent views of the stressors experienced by children hospitalized for an injury. A secondary aim was to identify children's feelings and thoughts about injury- and hospital-related stressors. Ten children and their parents participated in semistructured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded. Stressors were classified into 5 domains: procedural concerns, uncertainty, sleep and nutrition challenges, being confined to the hospital, and home preparation. Children and parents were more likely to articulate feelings about stressors than thoughts about stressors. Feelings reported by children and parents were predominantly negative. Children and parents may have an easier time expressing feelings than thoughts, which has implications for communicating with medical teams as well as for psychological treatment. Future research should examine how children's perceptions of their injury- and hospital-related experiences relate to later outcomes such as traumatic stress reactions.