The effects of hospitalisation on children, young people and their families

What are the effects of hospitalisation on children, young people & their families?


  • Scared about being separated from their family
  • Distressed from unfamiliar surroundings
  • Don’t understand the pain
  • Scared of the unknown
  • Can be upset about the changes to their body and not being like other kids
  • Not understand how something that hurts can actually help them
  • Be afraid of being left in hospital
  • Possible regression – they may begin to suck thumb, wet bed, want bottles and old comforts again
  • Disinterest in eating
  • Become more sensitive than usual
  • Can become withdrawn, hypersensitive or act out
  • Refuse medication – even if they normally wouldn’t

Young people

  • Loss of independence and privacy
  • Missing family and friends
  • Acting out or challenging authority
  • Disruption to normal sleep and routines
  • Change of eating habits
  • More emotional than normal
  • Upset with time away from school, sports and activities
  • Stuck in an unfamiliar environment with people they don’t know
  • Feeling homesick


  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Distress
  • Apprehension
  • Helplessness
  • Lonely or isolated
  • Anger
  • Unfamiliar surroundings
  • Caught between not enough information and information overload
  • Loss of privacy
  • Stress of trying to manage life at home as well as life at the hospital

Some questions to ask the healthcare professionals

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