Effect of play activities on hospitalized children's stress: a randomized clinical trial

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Potasz, Clarisse [UNIFESP]
Vilela de Varela, Maria Jose [UNIFESP]
De Carvalho, Luciane Coin [UNIFESP]
Do Prado, Lucila Fernandes [UNIFESP]
Do Prado, Gilmar Fernandes [UNIFESP]
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Objective: the use of unstructured play as an intervention to help children cope with the stress of a hospitalization period was tested in this randomized clinical trial. Methods: Urinary cortisol (a stress marker) was examined in 53 pediatric patients hospitalized for respiratory diseases in a public hospital, divided into two groups that did or did not play. Results: Boys and girls from the play group, 7-11 years old, showed a decrease in cortisol levels after participating in play activities. in younger participants (4-7 years old) the intervention did not seem as efficient, probably because in this group maturity levels may have influenced how children cognitively engaged in play as a coping strategy. Conclusions: the study showed the importance of using interventions that consider age ranges and gender in enhancing coping strategies, as well as the importance of such techniques that are employed by occupational therapists since they are professionals with expertise in the use of activities as therapeutic instruments.
Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy. London: Informa Healthcare, v. 20, n. 1, p. 71-79, 2013.