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February 1957

The Child's Emotional Response to Hospitalization

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
From the Pediatric Mental Health Unit, University of California Medical Center.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1957;93(2):157-164. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1957.02060040159008

It is generally agreed that it is more difficult for human beings to face the unknown than the known. The child entering the hospital, especially for the first time, is facing the unknown, and his anxiety in this situation may be extreme. This paper is concerned with the role of the physician in minimizing this anxiety as he prepares his patients for hospitalization and supervises the child's care in the hospital.

Over the past 20 years many studies have been conducted to determine the emotional effects of hospitalization on the child.* Observations have been made of significant changes in the behavior of the child which were not present before hospitalization, the duration of such changed behavior, and the age groups in which it has occurred. It was found that 20% of the hospitalized children showed the following significant behavior changes after hospitalization (in one study this figure reached as high