ERIC Number: ED401666
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Aug
Imaginal Coping and Childhood Illness: How Children Relate to Treatments for Chronic Illness.
Clark, Cindy Dell
This ethnographic study used multiple approaches to try to determine the emotional experience of young children (ages 5 to 8) with chronic illnesses. Forty-six children with severe asthma and diabetes were interviewed on two separate occasions using child-centered in-depth interviews that included play-based interviewing. The study also employed indirect observation with mothers keeping a notebook of observations and also photographing relevant moments. Findings focused on children's utilization of imaginal coping, in which the child makes use of a non-literal reality, towards which the child suspends disbelief and gains a sense of serenity and trust--such as the use of a special blanket to provide comfort during treatment. Children tended to define their illness not in bodily or organic terms but in terms of the concrete suffering derived from treating the illness. Children repeatedly ascribed special powers to their comfort object or ritual acts associated with treatment procedures. Pretend play and giving symbolic importance to medication procedures were other imaginal coping strategies used by the children. Health care providers are urged to consider children's coping strategies in planning or adjusting treatments. (Contains 12 references.) (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (14th, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, August 12-16, 1996).