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The experience of being ill as narrated by hospitalized children aged 7-10 years with short-term illness.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Clinical Sciences, Paediatrics.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing.
2005 (English)In: Journal of Child Health Care, ISSN 1367-4935, Vol. 9, no 2, 153-165 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Children's illness has been investigated through the eyes of parents and nurses but the child's own perspective has been largely ignored. The aim of this study is to illuminate the 7-10-year-olds' experiences of being ill. Three girls and four boys were interviewed and narrated their experience about short-term illness. The data obtained was subjected to a thematic qualitative content analysis. The analysis suggests that the children combined reality and imagination and contrasts seemed to coexist such as being scared/confident, sad/cosy and hurt/having fun. They felt caught and tried to escape. The experience of illness as narrated by children can lead to a richer understanding and influence the way we care for paediatric patients.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 9, no 2, 153-165 p.
Keyword [en]
Children, ill, experience
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-16430DOI: 10.1177/1367493505051406PubMedID: 15961369OAI: diva2:156103
Available from: 2008-01-12 Created: 2008-01-12 Last updated: 2009-10-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Att vara barn i sjukdom och sjukvård: barns berättelser om sina upplevelser av sjukdom och sjukvårdsrädsla
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Att vara barn i sjukdom och sjukvård: barns berättelser om sina upplevelser av sjukdom och sjukvårdsrädsla
2006 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overarching aim of this thesis is to illuminate the experience of illness and the meaning of fear of medical care through children’s narratives.

A purposive sample of 22 children and youths, aged from 2 to 18 years, narrated through play and conversation their experiences of illness and of their fear of contact with medical care. The data were analysed using thematic qualitative content analysis and the phenomenological hermeneutic method.

In childhood, the experience of being ill seems to vary with the child’s age. At the ages of 7 to 10 years, the child’s way of thinking can colour the experience;imagination can produce both problems and opportunities. Children seem to combine imagination and reality, and contrasts in the experience coexist such as being scared/confident, sad/cosy and hurt/having fun. At the age of 11 to 18,being ill seemed to imply being lost, hurt and in need of comfort from themselves and others. Medical care can be frightening to children and what is fearful can differ with age. To a 2-year-old child, medical care seemed to be dangerous; to children aged 7 to 11 years, it seemed threatening, like a monster. To the 2-year-old child, there seemed to be a conflict between, on the one hand, living up to expectations by ‘being good’ and hiding their feelings or, on the other hand, communicating their fear.

The narrations by children in the 7–11 year age group, point to the importance of empathy when caring for children, i.e., to be receptive of the child’s fear in order to help the child through and out of the fear. To be afraid for a two-yearold was to have one’s trust broken yet still be searching for a trustful relationship. However, if the child is received along with the fear, this opened up an opportunity for the child to develop courage and to gain control over the fear when under gentle care.

The results of this research revealed the possibility of using play to create stories in a creative relationship with the child. To express one’s inner feeling is a gift of trust, a gift of hospitality. Thus when caring for children we can be the ones who are receiving that gift. We can accept the offer of being a guest in the child’s world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Pediatrik, 2006. 71 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1048
Child, adolescent, illness, medical fear, experiences, narration
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-947 (URN)91-7264-156-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-12-15, Aula, Vårdvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2006-11-24 Created: 2006-11-24 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved

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