Teddy bear clinics, also called teddy bear hospitals, are a preventative health and education mechanism for school-aged children to learn about wellness and to decrease anxiety about going to the hospital. They are used worldwide, originating in Boston at the Shriners Burn Institute (Creedon, 1989). The main aims of teddy bear clinics are to reduce young children’s fear of doctors, hospitals, and medical procedures and to enhance their knowledge of health and disease as well as to increase medical students’ understanding of young children (Leonhardt et at., 2013). At a teddy bear clinic, children are exposed to a simulated hospital and act as the parents of a teddy bear patient while rotating through various medical stations set up as different parts of the hospital (Bloch & Toker, 2008).

Teddy bear clinics have been utilized and studied around the world. Research studies done in Germany, Israel, and Norway found that teddy bear clinics gave children better knowledge of their body, health, and disease and decreased anxiety and fear around visiting the hospital compared to children in control groups (Bloch & Toker, 2008; Husoy, 2013; Leonhardt et al., 2014). While there have been no formal research studies done in the United States, teddy bear clinics have been successfully implemented across the country in hospital and community settings (Creedon, 1989; Giefer & Sheverbush, 1999; Santen & Feldman, 1994; Zimmermann & Santen, 1997). More quantitative research must be done to establish a solid evidence-base for the practice of teddy bear clinics.

Find research and more information about teddy bear clinics here: http://www.childliferesources.com/articles/teddy-bear-clinics/

Read a review of the literature on teddy bear clinics here: Teddy Bear Clinics

Great video on the child life teddy bear clinic at Children’s Medical Center:


Bloch, Y.H., & Toker, A. (2008). Doctor, is my teddy bear okay? The “teddy bear hospital” as a method to reduce children’s fear of hospitalization. IMAJ, 10, 597-599.

Campbell, A., & Brown, S. (2008). The healthy teddy clinic: an innovative pediatric clinical experience. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 3, 72-75.

Creedon, C. (1989). Teddy bear clinic. Today’s OR Nurse, 11(2), 31-33.

Giefer, C., & Sheverbush, J. (1999). Teddy bear clinic: a collaborative health education project. The Kansas Nurse, 74(9), 20-21.

Husoy, G. (2013). Teddy bear hospital – students’ learning in the field of practice with children. Nursing Science, 33(1), 51-55.

Leonhardt, C., Margraf-Stiksrud, J., Badners, L., Szerencsi, A., & F. Maier, R. (2014). Does the “teddy bear hospital” enhance preschool children’s knowledge? A pilot study with pre/post-case control design in Germany. Journal of Health Psychology, 1-11.

Santen, L., & Feldman, T. (1994). Teddy bear clinics: a huge community project. MCN, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing, 19(2), 102-106.

Zimmermann, P., & Santen, L. (1997). Teddy says “hi!”: teddy bear clinics revisited. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 23, 41-44.

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