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Priority 5

What are effective support strategies for parents, families and children and youth hospitalized on the general paediatric inpatient unit (GPIU)?

Concrete Wall

The hospitalization process can be a physically and mentally strenuous experience for paediatric patients and their families. As children and youth are expected to leave their homes and undergo major interruptions to their daily activities and routines, hospitalizations may serve as anxiety-provoking experiences which can affect children’s physical growth, personality, and emotional development. In efforts to mediate the negative impacts of treatment and hospitalization, supportive care for paediatric patients and their families is essential. 

Gaps in Evidence

Current literature has identified some promising support strategies for certain groups of paediatric patients. These include physical activity programs that consist of aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises, and clown therapy. However, the most effective strategies for support in general paediatric settings specifically have yet to be identified. Therefore, research is needed to identify and understand what strategies may best assist children and youth hospitalized in GPIUs and their families in coping with the hospitalization process. 

Directions for Future Research

Potential research questions and/or directions for future studies include, but are not limited to: 

Caring for Subpopulations of Paediatric Patients 

  • How can hospitals become more adolescent-friendly spaces?  

  • What mental health supports should be made available for hospitalized teens?

  • What supports are available for teens and how is supportive care individualized for them?

  • What support strategies are available for parents of a child with a recently acquired disability?

  • What support strategies are available for new mothers of admitted babies (e.g. Personal Support Workers, lactation consultants)

Current Best Practices 
  • What best practices exist across Canada and can their effectiveness be compared across sites?  

  • What are the unintended consequences of current best practices (e.g. private rooms, family-centered care)?

  • What models of nursing care are in place to support hospitalized children and youth?

  • How does the time of day and day of week of an admission affect the extent and quality of a patient’s orientation?

Parental Support
  • What educational supports are available to parents in caring for hospitalized children and youth (e.g. allowing parents to help prepare their children for tests)?  

  • What is the impact of parent-partner relationships with paediatric clinicians?

  • How can educational and supportive care for parents be supported digitally?

  • What are the positive health benefits of providing psychosocial interventions to parents/caregivers during their child’s hospitalization?

  • What methods are available to prioritize sleep for inpatients?

  • What current day/night cycles are in place and what is the impact of disturbing these cycles in inpatient settings?

  • What guidelines, advice and recommendations are in place for safe sleeping by hospitalized infants, children and youth?

Physical and Mental Health
  • What outlets are available to children to ensure they are leading productive and healthy lives inside hospital wards (e.g. access to outdoor spaces, contact with social network, exercise programs)?  

  • What psychosocial resources are available for hospitalized children and youth (e.g. mental health services for patients and families)?


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