(HealthDay News) — For some hospitalized children, use of a videoconferencing program that allows children and their parents to virtually visit family members and friends can reduce stress, according to a study published online June 30 in Pediatrics.

Nikki H. Yang, DVM, MPVM, from the University of California Davis Children’s Hospital in Sacramento, and colleagues examined the stress levels of hospitalized children at admission and discharge using the Parental Stress Survey. The Family-Link videoconferencing program was offered to patients with expected length of hospitalization of four days or longer, and the correlation between its use and stress experienced by children was assessed. A total of 232 Family-Link users and 135 non-Family-Link users were included in the study.

Using propensity score matching, the researchers found that among the cohort of patients who lived closer to the hospital and had shorter lengths of hospitalization, the use of Family-Link correlated with a greater reduction in overall mean stress compared to that seen among non-Family-Link users (β=0.23; P<0.05). For Family-Link users versus non-users, there was a 37 percent reduction in overall mean stress in this cohort.

“The use of videoconferencing by some hospitalized children and families to conduct virtual visits with family and friends outside of the hospital was associated with a greater reduction in stress during hospitalization than those who did not use videoconferencing,” the authors write.

The study was funded in part by the Golden Bear Chapter of the California AT&T Pioneers.

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