The study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, shows that asking children about the nursing care they received can help evaluate and identify ways to improve that care.
The survey asked 496 children and youths between the ages of six- and 21-years old who were treated in a free-standing children's hospital two questions: 1) "What do you like most about your nurses and what they do for you, and how does that make you feel?"; 2) "What don't you like about your nurses and what they do for you, and how does that make you feel?" Ryan-Wenger said.
The responses were sorted into 18 categories of nurse behaviors, 12 that were regarded as positive -- such as "gives me what I need when I need it," "checks on me often," "talks and listens to me" and "is nice and friendly to me." These positive behaviors made the children feel cared about, safe, and happy. Six categories were regarded as negative -- such as "wakes me up" or "doesn't give me what I need when I need it", Ryan-Wegner said.
"What we didn't expect was 'checks on me often.' If we sat down as nurses and adults and ask what kids might say that wasn't one of them," Ryan-Wegner says. "It's important because what it said was it makes them feel safer and that the nurse cares about them."
"Parents mean well but they really cannot respond in the same way that their child would to the same kinds of questions. They don't always know what their children are thinking and feeling," Ryan-Wegner says.
One part of the survey asked parents to answer a question as they thought their children would. "Parents were totally off the mark," she says. For example, 33% of the children said they liked it when their nurses talked to them and listened to them, and that never made the parents' lists.