Effect of play-based intervention on children's mental status and caregiver involvement during hospitalization: findings from Pakistan

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Background: The nurturing care framework (NCF) encompasses responsive caregiving, health, nutrition, safety and security by parents and other caregivers. It improves health, development and wellbeing of children. A hospital environment can be detrimental to the developmental and emotional needs of children hence NCF can be applied to hospitalized children.
Objective: The objective was to determine if (i) play stimulation intervention mediated by non-specialist providers (caregivers) improves mental status of children who are hospitalized; (ii) to examine if difference varies between different providers and iii) if there is variation based on child age and criticalness of illness.
Method: A one-group pretest-posttest research was carried out using purposive sampling in a pediatric unit in Karachi, Pakistan, from November 2017 to December 2019. Children aged 3 months to 6 years were offered play stimulation by trainee psychologists. The outcome was measured through an observation tool, the Mental Status Examination Scale (MSE-S) developed for the study.
Results: A total of 524 sessions were delivered to 351 children. Significant mean difference was observed on MSE-S before and after the intervention when it was provided by trainees (9.95, CI = 8.11, 11.7), mothers (mean difference = 5.86, CI = 5.30, 6.42), fathers (mean difference = 5.86, CI = 4.48, 7.24) and non-specialist providers [caregivers (mean difference = 5.40, CI = 3.91, 6.89). Significant differences in mean was observed on MSE-S across different age groups and criticalness of illness.
Conclusion: It was concluded that play stimulation not only affects the behaviour of children but also varies when delivered by caregivers and trainees. Hence, interventions that involve parents are feasible.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Pediatrics