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This study suggests that the child's emotional reaction to hospitalization is determined by personal, interpersonal and environmental factors. The personal attribute investigated was the child's predisposition to experience anxiety, namely, trait anxiety. The interpersonal influence was the perceived level of maternal anxiety, and the environmental influence was type of hospitalization - traditional hospital or day clinic.

We hypothesized that (1) hospitalized children with high trait anxiety would experience higher anxiety state than children with low trait anxiety; (2) hospitalized children who perceive anxious rather than calm mothers would experience more anxiety; (3) children in a traditional hospital would experience higher anxiety state than children in a day clinic; and (4) the most anxious children would be those who have high trait anxiety, are exposed to anxious mothers and are hospitalized in a traditional hospital.

Results indicate that the child's level of trait anxiety predicted the level of experienced anxiety and so did perceived maternal anxiety. Type of hospitalization did not influence the level of anxiety, but children with high trait anxiety who attributed to their mothers a high level of anxiety reported more anxiety in the day clinic rather than in the hospital. The findings imply that, when helping children and families deal with hospitalization, personal, interpersonal and environmental factors have to be considered.