What the experts say

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 department*.

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 – impacting healthcare utilization and reducing dollars spent on healthcare." 

Dr. Patel MD, Section Chief of Neurology at Nationwide Children’s 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 cancer**.

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 treatment***:

  • 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


"When a child and family are faced with a life-threatening diagnosis, I have no doubt that a wish makes all the difference in their treatment journey.

“Time and time over, I’ve seen the wonderful effect of a wish – not just happiness, but true, long-lasting joy. This joy and sense of hope is so important in their recovery and healing.” 

Dr Margaret Little, Paediatric Oncologist, Queensland Children's Hospital


*2018 American Study: ‘Impact of a Make-A-Wish experience on healthcare utilization’ by Anup D. PatelPeter GlynnAshley M. FalkeMegan ReynoldsRichard HoytAllison HoynesMelissa Moore-ClingenpeelAnn Salvator & Jennifer J. Moreland – October 2018.

**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.

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