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Emotional Care for the Hospitalized Child: The Child Life Model


The Master's Degree in Child Life, a care model centred on the child, adolescent and family, is designed to train professionals in the area of clinical and psychosocial pediatric care, so that they can implement this model.

The master's degree is organized by the Teaching Campus Sant Joan de Déu and the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, and the qualification is issued by the University of Barcelona. The teaching campus has over twenty years of experience in the organization of its own and UB postgraduate and master's degree courses.
Child Life programmes have become standard in most of the main pediatric hospitals in the USA, and even in some pediatric units in general hospitals, to face situations in which diseases and treatments produce suffering and anxiety. Child Life specialists focus on children's strengths and feeling of well-being, and on promoting their optimum development. They aim to keep to a minimum any adverse effects of children's experiences in environments that are potentially stressful (particularly hospitalisation, but also other cases).

This master's degree focuses on both professional specialisation and research. The focus on professional specialisation is justified by the need for healthcare and psychosocial professionals in pediatrics, particularly in a hospital environment, who are specialists in a care model that is centred on children, adolescents and the family. At the same time, the aim of the master's degree is to train professionals who have the skills to carry out research in the context of disease and pediatric care.

Currently, the Spanish state does not have a programme of university training at bachelor's degree, postgraduate or master's level in this field. In contrast, in the USA, there is a long tradition of teaching in this field at a range of universities and higher education institutions. Clearly, over time, European hospitals, and specifically Spanish hospitals, will need to regulate academic qualifications in Child Life.

Learning objectives

The main learning outcomes of the master's degree are as follows:

  • Obtain appropriate training as professionals involved in the process of caring for pediatric patients, to become competent in the area of family-centred care and in the Child Life model, and to become capable of designing and managing care plans that promote the participation of patients and their families.
  • Obtain suitable training as professionals who can design, develop and assess research projects on the experience of pediatric disease and the outcome of applying the Child Life model.
  • Obtain suitable training as professionals who can lead and coordinate interdisciplinary teams that apply the model of family-centred care and Child Life.
  • Analyse and critically interpret healthcare practice, the changing needs of society and the available resources, to become capable of proposing theoretical and methodological changes in healthcare practice.
  • Learn the theoretical and methodological principles and instruments of work required to implement care plans based on the Child Life model.
  • Act in an ethical and legal way that complies with the ethical code, both in clinical practice during training and in professional development.

Basic Information

Number of ECTS credits awarded:
Language(s) of instruction:
 Catalan and Spanish
Number of places available:
Faculty or school:
  Sant Joan de Déu Teaching Campus - Private Foundation (affiliated centre)
Master's degree course homepage:
  Master's degree course homepage
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