Purpose: To contribute knowledge concerning hospitalized children's perceptions of nurses and nurse behaviors based on the words of children.
Study Design and Methods: This qualitative study of hospitalized children (n = 65) involved the use of a semi-structured interview guide. Younger children were interviewed by staff nurse researchers; older children provided written responses. Data were analyzed using the reductionistic and constructionistic steps described by Knafl and Webster (1988) to identify themes and compare responses across demographic groups.
Results: Seven themes emerged from the children's responses. Children appreciated nurses who smiled and used kind words (positive attitude/affect), took measures to reduce pain (physical comfort), provided age-appropriate diversion and light-hearted conversation (entertainment/humor), promoted positive well-being and a sense of security (advocacy), provided food and medicine (basic needs), interacted with them as an individual (acknowledgment), and provided comfort and support (reassurance). Differences were noted by age, chronicity, parental presence, prior admission, and days in the hospital.
Clinical Implications: Nurses caring for children should acknowledge them (with conversation or smiles) with each interaction, provide age-appropriate diversion and friendly interaction, provide basic needs in a gentle manner, and engage in protective and advocacy behaviors, such as frequent stops to assure a child's safety and well-being. Children appreciate a smile, a gentle touch, and kind words. Nurses who care for children should realize their continued need for physical comfort, reassurance, and conversation and know that these children understand and appreciate the advocacy roles nurses assume.