Social support has been shown to positively influence coping and healthcare outcomes.1 Family-to-family support does not seek to replace professionally-mediated support, but rather is a unique resource that promotes individual and family strengths through shared experience.
Objective To describe and compare the ways in which the physical aspects of a US hospital with a single patient room plan and a UK hospital with an open ward plan affect social support for children with cancer and their families
Methods Participants included 22 hospitalized children ages 7–18 years receiving treatment for cancer in the US or UK. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used within a grounded theory approach, and included interview, observation, and three drawings (Person Picking an Apple from a Tree, Scariest Image, Closure).
Results Children and parents at the US site received limited support from other children and parents. Children and families at the UK site received a high level of support from other children and families.
Conclusion Hospital environments affect the opportunity for supportive relationships. Hospitals that provide spaces for children and families to interact with other children and families promote social interaction, which leads to a higher level of social support than hospital environments that do not or that provide them in less accessible areas.2