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February 1997

Medical Students Act as Big Brothers/Big Sisters to Support Human Immunodeficiency Virus–Infected Children's Psychosocial Needs

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Preventive Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's Medical Center (Dr Tess, Ms Baier, and Mr Eckenfels); and the Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Medical School, Children's Memorial Hospital (Dr Yogev), Chicago, Ill.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(2):189-192. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170390079014

Objective:  To address the special psychosocial and emotional needs and concerns of human immunodeficiency virus–infected children through a medical student–based Big Brother/Big Sister program.

Design:  A telephone survey of 9 medical students who participated in the program in the last 4 years was undertaken to assess their experiences and feelings about the program.

Results:  The experiences resulting from participation in the program were unanimously positive. The medical students stated that in no other medical setting were they able to develop a better understanding of the feelings and emotions of living with a terminal illness. The volunteers also believed that the program increased the benefits for the child and the medical student.

Conclusions:  Initial evaluation of the Big Brother/Big Sister program for human immunodeficiency virus–infected children suggests that it helped establish a strong, supportive relationship between the affected child and the medical student. A modified program in other medical schools may help to serve many other communities affected by the human immunodeficiency virus epidemic.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:189-192