Well, its my summer holiday project for behavioral science in 1st Med year at RCSI(Dublin). We are looking into matters such as
-the attachment (to parents); long term hospitalization may lead to detachment of children to their mother, which may lead to future problems,
-stress coping (both to the children and to their parents and family)
-cognitive developments (Impacts of social handicap, fear, ignorance, isolation, depression ... etc)
-how children describe their sickness; children oriented communication ( eg, Piaget's theory of contagion, contaminaton and internalisaton at differnet stages "sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, formal operational" of intellectual developments)
-common causes for children to go to hospital ( since the rate for children catching infectious diseases are dropping thanks to better sanitation, advances in immunization, fertility control...etc, most children are there for chronic illness eg Ashma and accidents or new problems)
-impact to future behaviroural and attitude that influences their health, to both children and their adults ( since a lot of health-risking manner are developed or triggered by people's experiences while they are young or at trauma)
-cross culture examination, what are most important in different cultures
-diet; obesity, anorexia Nervosa, Bulima Nervosa ... etc developments and causes.
and I am looking into them more from psychological perspective.
I been looking around on the net, but mostly I found incomplete and repetitive simple business-type/hollywood type advertisements.
I took an undergrad class called "The Hospitalized Child". It was taught by a Child Life Specialist who had extensive experience working in hospitals. Just in case you're not familiar with what a Child Life specialist does, they help children and their families cope with the hospitalization, and try to counteract any negative effects. They also help children though procedures that they need to have done. The textbook I used is currently in storage, so I can't give you the title of the text my class used. Perhaps if you search for Child Life information / research and textbooks you'll find something helpful.
I'm so glad you're researching this topic. I also think it's a neglected subject.
I don't have any real knowledge, but was hospitalized for an extended period during childhood. Would some anecdotal comments help?
I was four years old, and had been hit by a car. I turned five lying on my back, in traction, in a hospital bed. (The nurses brought me chocolate cake. It was very good, as I recall But now I don't like chocolate cake...)
What I remember was that no one really told me about what was going on. And everyone on the staff was concerned with the major injuries I had sustained, but neglected a lot of the minor injuries -- which were the only ones that hurt! This was back in the 1960s, so there was no effort to make the experience understandable to me. My mother did do her best to explain to me what was going on, for which I am grateful, but there were still a fair number of things that no one addressed -- such as not telling me I wouldn't be able to walk once I got my cast off. I jumped off the table after it was cut off, and collapsed. That was traumatic, but it was nearly the only trauma I remember from the whole experience.
In general, I had none of the existential angst that an adult, or even an older child, would have experienced. To me, it was just something that was happening. It was kinda boring lying in bed all the time, but people came to see me; I was just like "Curious George," and even got to go for a ride in a go-cart, just like he did. Those were the things that I remember.
I also have experience with childhood hospitalizations. From both a patient standpoint and a sibling standpoint. I think you'll find that much of how children react is dependent upon the parent's reactions.