Hospitalization is a stressful experience for children that increases their anxiety and fears, generates resistance and noncompliance, and, as a result, delays necessary treatments. Developing an age-appropriate intervention to reduce the hospitalization-related stress perceived by children is an important component of pediatric nursing. This case study used therapeutic play and drawing to care for a virus-associated hemophagocytic syndrome preschooler who stayed in our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) between 11/13/2012 and 11/19/2012. Stressors faced by the patient included separation from primary caregiver, unfamiliarity with the medical environment and equipment, non-comprehension of the treatment and medication regimens, and loss of control. The patient displayed incorporative behaviors such as crying, screaming, refusing to be touched, and requesting parental accompaniment. Painting and picture books were used as developmentally appropriate interventions to understand the patient's feelings and to provide a means for him to project and release emotions. This strategy successfully assisted the child to overcome the perceived stress of hospitalization and to cooperate with healthcare providers on his treatment.
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