Playful interventions with hospital staff may promote subjective well-being in pediatric patients with cancer. These findings were published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing.

Pediatric patients may be at increased risk for detriments to their wellbeing due to negative emotions and experiences during hospitalization and the consequences of removal from their social environment and daily activities.

To assess whether playful interactions with pediatric oncology nurses may facilitate improved subjective well-being, 6 children were recruited at an academic medical center in Brazil.

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During a 10-week period, the children were approached during recreation time and asked how they felt during laboratory tests and imaging studies, and how they would help a friend going through the same situation. Up to 3 times per week, the children were asked to act out examination scenarios using a Playmobil® hospital play set.

The participants were 4 to 8 years old (mean, 6); 4 participants were boys and 2 were girls, and they participated in 8 to 12 play sessions.

During play, the children expressed negative emotions toward needles and intravenous (IV) lines. Some children indicated that personalization helped ease their discomfort, such as adorning IV poles or wheelchairs with superheroes or balloons. This personalization also helped children accept the need to take care of their IV line, indicating doing so may reduce the need for line replacement.

The investigators found that gamification of their experiences was an opportunity for positive reinforcement, allowing children to bond with hospital staff. In addition, gamification may cause the child’s focus to be redirected during more uncomfortable examinations.

This study was limited by its sample size and the age of the participants. Further research should focus on expanding the profile of included patients.


Marques da Rosa V, Daudt F, Tonetto LM, Brust-Renck PG, Reed JP, Fogliatto FS. Playful interventions to promote the subjective wellbeing of pediatric cancer inpatients during laboratory and imaging exams: A qualitative study. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2022;56:102094. doi:10.1016/j.ejon.2022.102094