Anesthesia Web, created by Gunilla Loof, a nurse at Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden's largest children's hospital, uses videos, games and cartoons to walk a child through what they will encounter during their stay at the hospital, all the way to the well-earned ice cream in the post-operative room.
All the material on the site has been approved by a doctor and is available in 27 languages in text form and interactive for smaller children in Swedish, English, Spanish and Arabic. It was started in 2006 and was the first service of its kind and it remains unmatched, attracting 15,000 visitors per month, mainly from Sweden but also from other countries. Loof started the website with a hope to better prepare sick children and their parents.
Loof said, "It happened too often that I met anxious parents and children and didn't have the time to reassure them. I wanted that to change. There is an enormous amount of general information available about hospital stays and the goal was to bring it all together and present it in a different way, rather than just running through it quickly before a procedure. And to reach young people you have to go to where they are: the Internet."
Zule Sicardi, an anaesthetist said she had noticed the effect the site has on children arriving for surgery. She said, "The children who use it are calmer and confident, the situation is familiar to them. And they get all kinds of information about the human body which allows them to talk about it with people around them."
The biggest challenge Loof faced was finding ways to present information that would interest every age group. She said, "The hardest was the adolescents. We used a panel of 10 children aged 10 to 18 and we developed the site based on their experience." The teenagers were given a special part of the site which includes a blog and a chat forum.
Loof has updated the material for almost a decade on a voluntary basis in the absence of any funding to maintain the service. Some people fear that the website could be left behind as Swedes, particularly young ones, shun computers in favor of tablets and smartphones.