The therapeutic power of play: examining the play of young children with leukaemia
Article first published online: 30 OCT 2003
Child: Care, Health and Development
Volume 29, Issue 6, pages 523–537, November 2003
How to Cite
Gariépy, N. and Howe, N. (2003), The therapeutic power of play: examining the play of young children with leukaemia. Child: Care, Health and Development, 29: 523–537. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2003.00372.x
- Issue published online: 30 OCT 2003
- Article first published online: 30 OCT 2003
- Accepted for publication 18 July 2003
Background The therapeutic function of play has been investigated in relation to recognized stressors such as hospitalization, illness and medical treatments for ill children. While medical treatments in the past 30 years have improved survival rates, children's psychological experiences and quality of life during and after their illness have received limited attention.
Objective The present study investigated the therapeutic effects of play on 3- to 5-year-old children with leukaemia compared with a control group of healthy children.
Method The participants with leukaemia (n = 11) were from the external oncology clinic of an urban children's hospital; control children (n = 11) attended a day care centre. Measures included children's experience of stress, social and cognitive play behaviours, and daily mood.
Results A series of manova revealed that the children with leukaemia, compared with the control children, engaged in (a) significantly fewer total play behaviours, and in particular less (b) parallel, (c) group and (d) dramatic play. Pearson correlations revealed significant relationships between reports of ‘being happy’ and play only for children with leukaemia. Quantitative and qualitative analyses revealed a pattern of repetitive play activities week after week for children with leukaemia, but not controls.
Discussion Findings are discussed in light of the theoretical and practical implications for children undergoing treatment for leukaemia.