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Study Reports Granting Ill Children’s Wishes Benefits them and Their Families

Update Date: Sep 10, 2013 04:27 PM EDT

Programs that help grant wishes to young and seriously ill children aim to give children some kind of happiness during a hard time. Even though these wishes cannot reverse the diagnosis for these children, a new study is reporting that granting the wishes could still benefit the children and their families.

In this new study headed by Dr. Anne-Sophia Darlington, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, Professor Passchier and Dr. Heule from the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, the team interviewed 235 parents. The parents had children who had their wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the Netherlands. The surveys asked these parents about their opinions of the program. They were also asked about how they felt after the wish was granted and whether or not they believed that the wish helped their children's wellbeing. For parents who were surveyed after they had lost their children, the researches asked them if the wish helped them with their coping.  

"There has been a growing interest in the influence of positive events on wellbeing, especially of those people who are ill. Many organizations organize events with the hypothesis that these events improve the lives of the recipients. However research on such activities and their impact has been fairly scarce," Darlington said according to Medical Xpress. "Our study has shown that on the whole the experience is a positive one with children experiencing more energy and parents being distracted. However, longer-term effects were only found for a small group of parents and children. We are very grateful to the parents for taking part in our study."

The researchers found that 92 percent of the parents felt that after the foundation granted their children's wish, the wellbeing of their children temporarily improved. Parents believed that the wish helped distract their children from their situation. On top of this finding, the researchers discovered that granting a wish helped parents as well. Parents reported that watching their children get their wish was a memorable event in their lives. 47 percent of the parents said, however, that they felt conflicted when the wish was granted because even though they were happy to see their children happy, the parents were still upset that their children's poor health was the reason why the wish was granted. 21 percent of the parents who lost their child felt that the wish helped with bereavement.

The report was published in Acta Paediatrica

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