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The importance of an outdoor playground for children with epilepsy and their family during and after hospitalization: A qualitative study of parents' experiences

      Highlights

      • Play supports children with epilepsy and their families to cope with hospitalization and their illness
      • Play outdoor during hospitalization improves children with epilepsy and their families physical and emotionalwell-being
      • Healthcare professionals can use an outdoor playground in the hospital environment in their clinical and therapeutic care

      Abstract

      Objectives

      To explore parents' experiences of using an outdoor playground during hospitalization with their child with epilepsy.

      Method

      The study is based on a qualitative exploratory design. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with 10 parents with a child with epilepsy (6–11 years). A phenomenological- hermeneutic approach was taken, inspired by Ricoeur. Data analysis and interpretation have been conducted at three levels: naive reading, structural analysis, and critical interpretation and discussion.

      Results

      During hospitalization the playground was the children's territory, where children felt safe, in control and normality. Parents experienced valuable time with their children through participation, and play facilitated communication and reduced pain and negative emotions. The playground improved parents and children's emotional well-being during hospitalization. Further, it supported coping with epilepsy, and contributed to gain successful experiences thus children developed self-esteem.

      Conclusion

      The study indicates that to the parents, an outdoor playground at the hospital environment is valuable for supporting children with epilepsy and their families to cope with hospitalization and everyday life, and it contributes to improve the family's physical, social and emotional well-being. The results emphasize that play at an outdoor playground could be integrated in the care and treatment during hospitalization.

      Keywords

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