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Make-A-Wish releases study with eye-opening results about the impact of

Make-A-Wish releases study with eye-opening results about the impact of wishes on mental and emotional well-being
Thousands of Make-A-Wish families, as well as doctors nationwide, participated in the 2022 Wish Impact Study

PHOENIX (March 29, 2022) – Having granted more than 520,000 wishes for children with critical illnesses worldwide since 1980, Make-A-Wish staff, volunteers and supporters have heard wish families state time and time again that their wish changed their lives. Today, Make-A-Wish is releasing new research in the form of the 2022 Wish Impact Study that provides quantitative data to lend credibility to the anecdotal feedback heard regularly from wish families. The powerful results of the Wish Impact Study add to a growing body of research demonstrating how wish-fulfillment promotes mental and emotional well-being for children and their families who are facing trauma stemming from a critical illness. 

An online survey studied three groups of individuals: parents of wish kids, wish alumni (i.e., former wish recipients) and doctors. The parents and alumni who were surveyed experienced a wish between 2009 and 2019, allowing them to look back and assess the lasting, long-term impact of the wish. In total, 3,411 people completed the survey. 

The majority of the survey respondents were wish parents. Of those surveyed, 93% of parents stated that their family experienced traumatic stress due to their child’s critical illness. After their child’s wish was granted, 94% of parents recalled seeing improvements in their child’s emotional well-being, so much so that 91% of parents reported the wish gave their child a better chance of surviving their illness. As a result, 91% of parents consider the wish to have been a necessary part of their child’s medical treatment.

In regard to wish alumni, 87% of those surveyed stated that they and their families experienced traumatic stress during their battle with a critical illness. Their wish played an integral role in counteracting the mental and emotional distress. More than 90% of the alumni agreed that the wish improved their quality of life, brought their family closer together, boosted their self-esteem and gave them hope for the future. It is important to note that 60% of the alumni indicated that they had fully recovered from their illness, with many more expecting to get a clean bill of health in the near future. The statistic helps to dispel the common misconception that children must have an end-of-life prognosis to be eligible for a wish. 

Perhaps the most overwhelmingly positive feedback on the impact of a wish came from the pediatric doctors who participated in the study. More than 90% of the doctors said they witnessed their patients overcoming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and depression after their wish. Furthermore, 95% of the doctors reported the wish improved their patients’ emotional and physical well-being. Most notably, 75% of the doctors went as far as to state that a wish could improve a child’s medical outcomes. 

“At a time when families are dealing with unplanned hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments, a wish can provide children with the chance to reclaim a piece of their childhood and a sense of control,” said Dr. Shoba Sriktantan, MD, FAAP and chair of the Make-A-Wish National Medical Advisory Council. “After coming back from a wish, many of my patients exhibit a renewed sense of hope and greater compliance with their treatment, which is why I – and many of my peers – consider a wish to be an important part of a child’s treatment plan.”

The release of the Wish Impact Study kicks off a month-long countdown to World Wish Day, celebrated every year on April 29, the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of the organization 42 years ago. In the month leading up to World Wish Day and for the month following, Make-A-Wish will take inspiration from the Wish Impact Study results and share stories focused on the impact of wishes on mental and emotional well-being.