‘The medicine is to get me better’ : findings on pediatric patients’ responses to play with medical equipment
Children coping with a haematological malignancy have to deal with an extensive number of stressors including frequent hospitalization, repeated intrusive procedures, and the stress of treatment and side-effects from prolonged chemotherapy. This article presents findings from recent qualitative research that documents through an unstructured play-based interview, which incorporated the opportunity to play with medical equipment, the insights and understanding of pediatric haematology patients about their disease and its treatment. This information is compared to baseline information on similar play-based interviews with a control group of healthy preschoolers. Although limitations to the comparison are noted, the significantly different results highlights the important of play as a medium for providing insights as to the knowledge, and meaning both healthy and seriously ill children bring to their understanding of leukaemia and related disorders. In summary, the healthy cohort of children displayed very short-lived, naïve, uninformed, joyous encounters in playing with medical equipment, whilst the children with haematological malignancies demonstrated either intense and extended play or complete avoidance (aversion) accompanied by a detailed and quite sophisticated knowledge base and understanding of both the disease and its treatment.