IT IS COMMONLY assumed that the combination of hospitalization and illness has long-lasting undesirable psychological consequences for children. Although this may be true as a general rule, the findings of systematic, quantitative research provide no certain answer. In some cases the conclusion that relatively brief experiences of this type are psychologically harmful has been strongly influenced by emphasis on the ill effects of long-term, mother-child separation, such as those made by Bowlby.1 Whether or not such emphases are applicable to brief hospitalizations is open to question.
Data from the study of brief hospitalization and illness are inconclusive. Studies of the incidence of particular symptoms following hospitalization (eg, Levy2) are inherently uninstructive in the absence of normative data or data from appropriate control groups.
Studies of changes in children's behavior after hospitalization have been popular and influential, most commonly leading to the conclusion that hospitalization is upsetting in general.
SIPOWICZ RR, VERNON DTA. Psychological Responses of Children to Hospitalization: A Comparison of Hospitalized and Nonhospitalized Twins. Am J Dis Child. 1965;109(3):228–231. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1965.02090020230006
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