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Wishes improve health of sick children, study shows

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(NEW YORK) — Make-A-Wish arranges experiences, or “wishes,” for children who have progressive, life-limiting, or life-threatening illness. And now, a new study shows participation in the program may give children a better quality of life and reduce hospital visits and health care costs.

From 2011 to 2016, 496 patients at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio received a wish. Those who received a wish, according to the study, were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times more likely to have fewer unplanned emergency department visits compared to patients of similar age, gender, disease category and disease complexity.

Additionally, a higher percentage of wish kids achieved a decrease in health care costs after their wish was granted, compared to those children who did not receive a wish over the same period of time. The decrease stood even after factoring in the cost of the wish.

A previous study demonstrated programs similar to the Make-A-Wish experience help to improve quality of life and family bonding, reduce stress, increase hope, and serve as a distraction from illness. Thus, participation in the Make-A-Wish program may provide children improved quality of life, reduced hospital visits and decreased health care costs.

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