Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Education


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Dawn Butterworth


Many young children are admitted to the emergency departments of our childrens hospitals without the opportunity to receive any preparation in terms of what to expect and what to do or not to do (Health Department of W A, 2000). Surrounded by strange people, environment, smells, sounds and medical equipment, and confronted with possibly painful and invasive procedures, many young children become stressed and anxious. Negative psychological effects may have immediate and/or long lasting psychological consequences (Zuckerberg, 1994; 0 Byrne, Peterson & Saldana, 1997). It is important to protect young childrens rights and to minimise upset and trauma whenever possible. To meet the needs of children who may experience unplanned hospitalisation, preventative measures have been taken by the Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital (AWCH). One of these preventative measures is a Hospital Familiarisation Programme (HFP) designed to prepare healthy young children for possible hospitalisation. This study investigated the effect of the HFP on 5 years olds understanding of common items of medical equipment and procedures, using a Medical Equipment and Procedures Test (MEPT). In addition, their feelings towards possible hospitalisation and medical intervention were obtained by the use of a Hospital Intervention Footings Index (HIFI). A Solomon Four Group design (Salkind, 1997) was employed with a total sample of 84 five-year-olds drawn from 4 pre-primary centres in a large metropolitan ' primary school. The treatment consisted of a Hospital Familiarisation Session conducted by a presenter from the Association for the Welfare of Children iii Hospital, W.A. An analysis of variance revealed th8t there was a significant increase in the childrens understanding of medical equipment and procedures, as well as an increase in positive feelings towards medical intervention as a result of the Hospital Familiarisation Programme. On the basis of these results and from a review of the research literature and an analysis of developmental theories, some modifications to the presentation of the HFP were suggested to maximise its effectiveness. Further recommendations were also made for current practice and future research investigation.