Researchers at Edge Hill University have created a new comic strip and animation to help children know what to expect and what might happen when they go to hospital.
Professor Lucy Bray, Professor Bernie Carter and Ed Horowicz created the unique materials after talking to children aged seven to fourteen about their fears and feelings about visiting hospital and having medical procedures.
Working with local animators MisterMunro the team created two different versions of the animations, one for children and one aimed at doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
Professor Lucy Bray, said:
“It can be hard for children to know what to expect when they come to hospital for tests and procedures. We know that they tend to have a better experience if they know what will happen and have chance to prepare themselves.
“By talking to children, they told us that hospitals can be boring and can seem scary with lots of strange looking equipment and noises. They often don’t know what’s going to happen to them.
“Children can struggle to join in the conversations which happen within hospitals, with adults using words which are strange and unfamiliar to them, our work hopes to help children know that it is okay to ask questions to find out what is going on.”
The team used this information to make a colourful, child-friendly animation and comic strip telling children what to expect, encouraging them to ask as many questions as they want and to prepare for their visit to hospital.
Professor Bray said:
“The flip side to the young person’s animation and comic strip is a version aimed at health professionals which shows what children might feel and what they’re often too scared to say.
“Older children told us they often feel embarrassed and prefer to be asked before someone touches them or examines them in hospital. They said that as they are older they can be expected to be grown up and just get on with having procedures done.”
The professional version shows children feeling small and overwhelmed, shows their worries over being told off for having an injury and shows how it makes them feel if professionals talk to adults rather than them.
Professor Bray added:
“We hope both versions of the animation will help. We want children to feel empowered and know what to expect if they go to hospital or a medical setting for a procedure.
“Similarly, we want professionals to think about how a child might be feeling. If they ask a question, wait for the answer. Simple things like saying ‘we won’t do anything until you say you’re ready’ can make a huge difference.”
The animations and comic books will be launched at a free fun event for children, parents and professionals at the university during half term on Thursday 21st February between 1-4pm. The event will involve, arts and craft activities, a play hospital and ward, chance to explore a virtual hospital ward, play an X-ray game and see the launch of the new children’s comic strip and animation called Children Coming to Hospital.
For further information or to book your place, please contact Professor Lucy Bray on Brayl@edgehill.ac.uk.
The team will be working with the University and other organisations to share the animation through social media. The comic strip will be distributed to hospitals, surgeries and medical centres across the region and beyond.