Facts and numbers

Table 1: Developmental attributes of preschool children(1)

Dominance of sensory perceptionJustify the child’s need for surgery by precise symptomsExplain positive effects by saying “After surgery you can run around”
Egocentric cognitionUse adequate methods to find out the child’s symptomsUse pain scales adapted for children
Focussing on one aspectUse a child‘s perspective to foresee frightening items in a hospitalSwitch child‘s attention to positive items
Neglect of intentionDifficulty in coping with painful or uncomfortable treatmentExplain positive intention before treatment
Restricted time perspective Substantiate time dataExplain the time in a different phases: “Only one more day in hospital once Grandma comes to visit”
No understanding of causalityAvoid giving irrational reasons when linking cause and effect Delineate illness from poor behaviour

Facts and numbers: Preparing for surgery

  • About 75% of all children with congenital heart diseases need at least one heart surgery. (2)
  • About 30% of all children with congenital heart diseases needed more than one heart operation. (3)
  • On average, these children had nearly five hospital stays of about 80 days. (3).
  • More than half of the children had a least clinical postoperative findings. (3)


(1) Based on the German health psychologist, Arnold Lohaus, who refers to the theory of Piaget

(2) Bundesverband Herzkranke Kinder (2007). Jahresbroschüre 2007/2008 (brochure to order via bvhk-aachen@t-online.de)

(3) Results from a sample of 78 children with congenital heart diseases aged between 4 and 14 years, who were participating in a sport programme, Sticker EJ. (2004). Sport macht stark – auch bei angeborenem Herzfehler. Ergebnisse einer interdisziplinären Follow-up Studie zur Entwicklungsoptimierung. Aachen: Shaker-Verlag.