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Pediatric Patients Benefit from Videoconferencing, Study Reports

Update Date: Jun 30, 2014 04:09 PM EDT

Children patients who have to stay in the hospital might experience isolation, loneliness and stress. In a new study, researchers from the University of California (UC) Davis Children's Hospital examined the effects of offering pediatric patients time to videoconference with their family and friends. The team found that videoconferencing helped reduce the patient's stress and anxiety levels.

For this study, the researchers headed by UC Davis professor James Marcin recruited 367 children who stayed at the hospital for as little as four days. The researchers examined the effects of the Family-Link program, which allows patients to videoconference, on their anxiety levels.

"We have many children who transfer from other hospitals and even other states," said Nikki Yang, first author on the study reported by Medical Xpress. "Because they are too far away for family and friends to visit, they often ask for laptops so they can teleconference. That was the origin of Family-Link."

232 pediatric patients used the program while 135 of them did not. The children's stress and anxiety levels were measured with the help of the Parent-Guardian Stress Survey, which was administered during hospital admittance and discharge. The researchers found that children who used the program had reduced stress levels in comparison to children who did not utilize Family-Link. This relationship was even stronger for children who lived near the hospital they stayed at and for children who had a shorter stay.

"This study shows that we have another tool to help children during their hospital stays," said Yang. "The improvement in stress scores shows that Family-Link is really helping many children and might possibly be improving outcomes."

This study was published in Pediatrics.

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