The Amazing Effect of Granting a Wish to Seriously Ill Children
Charities such as the Make-A-Wish foundation work tirelessly to provide magical gifts and experiences to children who are living with life-threatening and often terminal conditions.
But beyond providing a magical experience does this positive intervention offer any further effects on the well-being of the children receiving?
Most would agree that it does and argue that it is greatly beneficial to the children and probably families of the children as well. But could this benefit in well-being just be a positive affect from a great day?
New researchers aimed to consider how a positive intervention such as granting a wish may have a measurable psychological and physical effect on the well-being of ill children:
The aim of this research is to investigate whether granting wishes promotes positive psychological responses and positive physical changes (i.e. reductions in pain and nausea) in children with a life-threatening illness
The researchers recruited families and children who were involved in a wish-granting programme and measured things such as well-being, psychological resource and clinical outcomes.
These measures specifically considered levels of positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, optimism and depression.
Once the research team had analysed all of the data collected they were able to show receiving gifts was advantageous:
We found that wish-granting promotes Positive Emotion (PE) and that its resultant effects last for at least several weeks.
The positive emotion observed is known to help “build durable physical, intellectual, and social resources that are essential to promoting adaptive coping responses following traumatic circumstance” which are likely to be extremely beneficial when coping with a serious illness.
Furthermore the study was also able to show that life satisfaction and general quality of life composite scores improved on having a wish granted.
Results also revealed that the children in the wish group had significantly higher levels of gratitude and love:
Children in the wish group became more aware of the support provided by others and this awareness could have lead to a sense of thankfulness and love in response to fulfilling a wish.
Gratitude and love are two of the strengths most robustly associated with life satisfaction
In regards to improvement in physical measure the study also demonstrated this to be true:
Our results showed that the children in the wish group reported significantly lower levels of nausea after wish than those in the comparison group.
Finally the researchers were also able to show benefits for the families of the ill children who had wished granted:
Mothers in the wish group also reported a perceived decrease in their child’s concerns about the disease