a1 Children’s Hospital Boston & Harvard Medical School, Boston
a2 University of Georgia, Athens
a3 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta & Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta
a4 North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, Manteo, United States of America
The aim of our study was to examine psychosocial changes associated with participation in a camp for children with cardiac defects. We enrolled 29 children with cardiac defects aged from 8 to 18 years, along with their parents. Both the parents and the children completed measures of expectations for the camp and anxiety. Analyses of repeated measures indicated that levels of anxiety amongst the children decreased significantly at the end of camp when compared to its beginning. Levels of anxiety amongst the children were not statistically different at follow-up. Anxiety amongst the parents concerning the separation from their children also decreased at follow-up when compared to before the camp. Higher levels of anxiety reported by the children prior to the camp were associated with greater anxiety amongst the parents concerning the anticipated separation, more negative parental expectations of the camp, fewer experiences of separation from their children, and lower expectations by the children for the camping experience. Reductions in anxiety amongst the children following the camp were associated with negative parental expectations about the camping experience. The camping environment can provide a naturalistic exposure to new experiences for the child, and a successful separation for the parent, thereby promoting confidence amongst the parents in the ability of their children to function independently.
(Accepted May 11 2007)
c1 Correspondence to: Laura E. Simons, PhD, Pain Treatment Service, Children’s Hospital Boston, 333 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Tel: (617) 355 2473; Fax: (617) 730 0199; E-mail: Laura.Simons@childrens.harvard.edu