The Toy Foundation and Nemours Announce Ground-Breaking Research on Role of Play in Trauma-Informed Care

January 29, 2019 | The Toy Foundation (TTF) and Nemours Children’s Health System, one of the country’s largest pediatric health care systems, have unveiled new research exploring the role of play in trauma-informed healthcare – the first study of its kind to examine the incorporation of play into trauma-related care. According to the research findings, play can be used to intervene in potentially traumatic situations and modify how these experiences are perceived: providing distraction, reducing anxiety, delivering information, helping to process emotions, and fostering feelings of control. The research is part of a previously announced multi-phase initiative between TTF and Nemours to create a play-based intervention program for children in the hospital setting and beyond.

“Play is an essential element of the hospital experience for children – helping to restore normalcy and provide comfort for patients and families,” said Jean Butler, executive director of The Toy Foundation. “The research confirms that a play-based intervention program can be an excellent way to alleviate traumatic stress reactions in children with life-threatening illnesses, and to provide an outlet for families during their hospital stay. We are very proud and excited to be working with Nemours on this program and look forward to the next phase of development.”

Results of the research will be published in a special issue of Psychological Services on “Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families” (February 2019). It will also be presented at several major medical conferences including:

  • at the Society of Behavioral Medicine 40th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Washington, DC as part of the paper abstract “Family Consequences of Potentially Traumatic Pediatric Medical Events: Implications for Trauma-Informed Care” in March; and
  • at the 2019 Child Life Annual Conference in Chicago, IL in April.
  • The research was previously presented at the 2018 Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.

Based on the recommendations and with the qualitative research phase now complete, TTF and Nemours will collaborate on developing the play-based intervention program to be tested in select Nemours hospitals later this year.

Since 2003, The Toy Foundation has provided nearly $225 million in brand-new toys to over 25 million deserving children through its signature program, The Toy Bank. To learn more about The Toy Foundation and its partners visit