What the experts say

At Make-A-Wish, we experience the impact of wishes every day in stories from children themselves, letters from parents, and feedback from hard-working volunteers and medical practitioners.

Now, Wish Impact studies from around the world show that a wish is a powerful intervention that gives hope, strength and joy to children with a life-threatening illness.


More than just a nice to have

A recent US study suggests wishes give seriously ill children more than just hope, providing a demonstrated clinical benefit.

In the study led by America’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, pediatric patients granted a wish were 2.5 times less likely to have unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times less likely to visit the emergency department1.

The October 2018 study compared almost 500 patients who received wishes with a control group who did not, and looked at the associated healthcare utilisation and costs across two years.

"For the first time, this study lets us say that a wish is more than just nice, and something that potentially can help the health of a child get better over time."
Dr. Patel MD, Section Chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (USA)

Dr PatelDr. Patel MD, Section Chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Watch Dr Patel talk about the power of a wish here.

Learn more about the study here: Wishes Help Keep Pediatric Patients Out of the Hospital


The Power of a Wish

Studies from Make-A-Wish chapters around the world support these findings.

In 2015, Make-A-Wish Israel engaged researchers to look into the effects of a wish on children with cancer2.

In a controlled trial, 33 kids who received a wish were compared with a control group who didn’t. Each child completed measures of psychiatric and health-related symptoms, positive and negative effect, hope and optimism, before and after their wish.

This research found that overall, children who experienced a wish generally showed a reduction in stress, depression and anxiety symptoms. What’s more, these feelings were replaced with a greater general sense of hope for their future and positive emotions.

The research also showed that children who experienced a wish demonstrated greater health-related quality of life, with a significant reduction in their perceptions of their own physical limitations.


Further Findings

A 2011 survey of wish parents, health professionals and volunteers around the world also explored the ways in which wishes work to complement medical treatment3:

Most wish families surveyed reported a noticeable improvement in their child’s mental and emotional health following a wish experience.  

Three in four wish children experienced an improvement in their physical health, involving increased strength and willingness to get stronger to overcome their condition.  Nine in 10 parents felt an increased sense of empowerment, improved ability to cope with the illness and situation.  Nine in 10 families also reported less anxiety and fear among the wish child’s siblings.


1: 2018 American Study: ‘Impact of a Make-A-Wish experience on healthcare utilization’ by Anup D. Patel, Peter Glynn, Ashley M. Falke, Megan Reynolds, Richard Hoyt, Allison Hoynes, Melissa Moore-Clingenpeel, Ann Salvator & Jennifer J. Moreland – October 2018.  Study link here

2: 2015 Israel Study: ‘The effects of the Make-A-Wish intervention on psychiatric symptoms and health related quality of life of children with cancer’ by Anat Shoshani, Keren Milfano, Johanna Czamanski-Cohen – October 2015. Study link here

3: 2011 International Study: ‘Wish Impact Study Results – Second Phase: Jan. – Aug. 2011’ (consolidated results) – November 2011.


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