The social implications for children attending children's health camps
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Three studies are reported which investigated the impact of attendance at health camp on liking by and interaction with peers. The first study used a group question and answer format to obtain baseline knowledge children held with regard to the nature of health camp and reasons children attend. A majority of children had an accurate understanding of health camp and furthermore, but from an evaluative perspective much of that understanding was negative. The second study utilized vignettes describing children with different problems (health, behavioral, family) as-either attending or not attending health. Attendance at health camp had no impact on liking or difference (from self) ratings. However, the problem type did elicit a significant effect. The child with a behavioral problem children was rated as more different from the self and liked less than the other two target children (with family and health problems) and the control child. From this study it appeared that it was the problem rather than attendance at health camp that resulted in stigmatization, but the hypothetical nature of this study presented some potential limitations, therefore the final study was conducted using actual children. The final study was conducted 2 weeks prior health camp and 2-3 weeks after the target children returned from health camp. Before health camp the attending children were nominated less often than expected by peers asked to nominate 3 classmates they liked most and nominated more often than expected when peers were asked to nominate 3 classmates they disliked the most. When observed in the playground, the children due to attend health camp were subjected to more negative interactions and fewer positive interactions than matched control children. Post health camp there was little change in peer nominations, but a marked improvement in observed interactions, with the attending child not significantly different from the control child in interaction patterns, the majority of which were positive. The findings of the three studies were discussed with reference to the initial question, with a focus on the importance of this research in developing an understanding of the wider impact of children's health camps. Possible limitations of the current research and suggestions for future research were also considered.