TV hospital dramas fuelling kids' fears, study shows

Article date: 16 November 2000

TELEVISION HOSPITAL dramas are frightening kids rather thaneducating them, a new study shows today.

A visit to the hospital and an injection topped the poll ofkids' biggest fears - they say they'd rather watch a scary horrorfilm than face a date with the hospital doctor, according toindependent research commissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare.

And parents are worried that hospital dramas are fuelling theirchildren's fears.

More than half of parents said that gory TV hospital dramas areunrealistic and lead to kids confusing fact and fiction. But ninein ten children aged between seven and 12 regularly tune intoprogrammes like 'Casualty' and 'ER'.

But it's good news for the NHS, desperate to recruit nurses -nearly three in five girls want to be nurses and a third of boyswant to be doctors.

The research - carried out among both parents and children -also shows:

  • More than three and a half million children have been tohospital for treatment - that's three quarters of all childrenbetween the ages of seven and 12 *
  • Dads worry more than mums about their child going intohospital
  • Two in five boys would prefer to take their Gameboy tohospital, rather than their parent or family member
  • But more than a third of girls would rather take a familymember with them, followed by a book and soft toy
  • Three in five parents said that, to allay a child's fear ofhospital, they would advise sitting with them and talking to themabout the visit, and only one in five would arrange a pre-visit tothe hospital

In response to the need to provide parents and their childrenwith realistic advice about what to expect from a hospital visit,Norwich Union Healthcare has produced a guide, simply called 'MyHospital Visit'.

The guide includes information about the various staff kids arelikely to meet in the hospital, how to prepare for the visit,details about the different areas of the hospital and a glossary ofcommon terms they may come across.

Celebrity mum and children's television presenter Wendy Turnerwelcomed the launch of 'My Hospital Visit'. She said: "For a childof any age, a visit to hospital is likely to be frightening. Thisguide has been designed to reassure kids, take them on a mini tourof the hospital and introduce them to the people they're likely tomeet.

"I like it because it's interactive and designed to be verychild-friendly. It's got a fold-out map of a typical hospital withcartoons, space for kids to keep notes of their daily routine, andnames and telephone numbers of friends they make."

'My Hospital Visit' is supported by leading children's charity,Action for Sick Children. Its Director, Cheryl Hooper, said: "Astay in hospital can be a traumatic experience for an adult, letalone a small child. We believe at Action for Sick Children thatappropriate preparation for a hospital stay can make a hugedifference to how a child will cope."

Nicole Hockley of Norwich Union Healthcare, said: "Our researchshows that parents naturally worry about their children having togo into hospital, and there's a need for information to educatekids about what to expect from their hospital visit. That's why wehave produced the guide, and we hope that parents and children willfind it useful."

To obtain a free copy of 'My Hospital Visit' call Freefone 0800122 810.


Notes to editors

* Office for National Statistics, Population Estimates, 1999

Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned Brand & Issues toconduct an independent survey of 500 parents and 360 childrenbetween the ages of seven and 12 in October 2000

CGU and Norwich Union merged on 30 May 2000 to create CGNU plc -the world's 6th largest insurer, the UK's largest insurance groupand one of the top-five life insurers in Europe with substantialpositions in other markets around the world.

CGNU's principal business activities are long-term savings,general insurance and asset management with worldwide premiumincome and retail investment sales of £26 billion and assets undermanagement of more than £200 billion.

The combined life and pensions, general insurance and retailfund businesses in the UK operate under the Norwich Union brand,while the institutional business operates under the Morley FundManagement brand.

For further media information, contact Anja Kueppers or MatthewBuchanan at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or Louise Zucchi at Norwich UnionPress Office on 01603 684 506.

Back to top