Document Type


Associated Faculty

Dr. Valerie Herbert

Sponsoring Academic Department

School of Nursing

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

Hospitalization can be a frightening experience for pediatric patients. Addressing these negative emotions greatly impacts their experience, wellbeing, and recovery process. It is crucial to understand and implement strategies that alleviate these negative emotions and promote healing during hospitalization. The authors will review two safe, effective, and reliable methods of alleviating fear and anxiety in hospitalized children under 12 years old; distraction techniques and play therapy. A literature search was conducted on CINAHL and PubMed using the following search criteria: child, youth, kid, play therapy, therapeutic play, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, hospital, acute setting, inpatient, and distraction. A total of 14 articles met our inclusion criteria. The evidence is composed of evaluating the effectiveness of various distraction techniques and play therapy, with evidence that concluded that these techniques decreased anxiety in hospitalized pediatric patients under 12 years old. Various techniques and therapies included the use of virtual reality, art and music therapy, distraction cards, sand therapy, allowing children to play with medical equipment, and bubble play. These methods are especially effective within this population of children and allows them to communicate their feelings through physical expression, ultimately decreasing fear and anxiety within this patient population throughout their hospitalization. The findings in this review will be useful for healthcare providers to care for pediatric patients throughout hospitalization and will allow a more supportive, comforting, and healing environment for this patient population.


pre-print (i.e. pre-refereeing)