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The symptom experience of hospitalised Chinese children and adolescents and relationship to pre-hospital factors and behaviour problems

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Franck, L. S.; Kools, S.; Kennedy, C.; Kong, S. K.; Chen, J. L.; Wong, T. K.

PURPOSE: To describe the symptom experience of hospitalised Chinese children and adolescents and examine the relationship of symptoms to pre-hospital factors and child behaviour. METHODS: Data were collected at two hospital sites in Hong Kong (HK) and at five hospitals in the Chinese Mainland (CM). A total of 307 hospitalised children and adolescents (ages 2-18) and their primary caregiver (e.g., mother, father or grandparent) participated in the study. Children and adolescents completed an age-appropriate symptom diary on one evening and subsequent morning early in their hospital stay. Parents completed the diary for the children less than 6 years of age. Parents also completed an age-appropriate Chinese version of the Child Behaviour Checklist. RESULTS: Over 50% of the children and adolescents reported some degree of pain, 75% of them reported evening tiredness, and 21% reported gastrointestinal symptoms. The intensity of symptoms varied by age and region and symptoms often co-occurred. Greater symptom burden was predicted by previous surgery, higher level of worst pain prior to hospitalisation, parent report of child behaviour problems, and co-occurrence of other symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Hospitalised Chinese children manifest symptoms of pain, tiredness, and gastrointestinal distress that vary based on pre-hospital factors and are associated with child behaviour problems. Further research is needed to identify causes and treatments for children’s symptoms.

Research abstracts