- Christopher A Thurber, PhD, ABPP
Christopher A Thurber, PhD, ABPP
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Phillips Exeter Academy
- Edward Walton, MD
Edward Walton, MD
- Assistant Professor, Departments of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics
- University of Michigan
Homesickness is the distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents . It is characterized by acute longing and preoccupying thoughts of home.
Almost all children, adolescents, and adults experience some degree of homesickness when they are apart from familiar people and environments. In some individuals, the subjective distress and level of impairment related to this separation may be extreme.
Primary care providers can help families understand the etiology of homesickness, identify which children are at risk, and develop strategies for prevention and/or treatment. An overview of homesickness, including techniques for prevention with planned separations, such as summer camp, and treatment strategies for unanticipated or traumatic separations, such as hospitalization, will be presented below.
Homesickness is defined as the distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents . Severe homesickness is classified as an adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood according to the American Psychiatric Association taxonomy (diagnostic code 309.28) [2,3].
Homesickness is characterized by recurrent cognitions focused on home (eg, parents, house, loved ones, home cooking, family pet); it is always precipitated by an actual or anticipated separation from home. These features distinguish homesickness from other adjustment disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders, as well as from the separation anxiety felt by children when caregivers leave home (eg, because of divorce, military service, etc) [4,5].
- Thurber CA, Walton E, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on School Health. Preventing and treating homesickness. Pediatrics 2007; 119:192.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. The Classification of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders in Primary Care: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Primary Care (DSM-PC) Child and Adolescent Version, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics 1996.
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association, Arlington, VA 2013.
- Thurber CA. The phenomenology of homesickness in boys. J Abnorm Child Psychol 1999; 27:125.
- van Tilburg MA, De Waal K, Vingerhoets AJ, van Heck GL. Homesickness and separation anxiety: Are they different. Psychol Stud (Mysore) 1999; 44:95.
- Thurber CA. The experience and expression of homesickness in preadolescent and adolescent boys. Child Dev 1995; 66:1162.
- Pravda M. Homesickness: dispelling the myths. Camping Magazine 1995; 67:18.
- Thurber CA. Children's coping with homesickness: phenomenology and intervention. In: Psychological Aspects of Geographical Moves: Homesickness and Acculturation Stress, van Tilburg MA, Vingerhoets AJ (Eds), University Press, Tilburg, Netherlands 1997. p.143.
- Thurber CA. Multimodal homesickness prevention in boys spending 2 weeks at a residential summer camp. J Consult Clin Psychol 2005; 73:555.
- Fisher S. Leaving home: Homesickness and the psychological effects of change and transition. In: Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition, and Health, Fisher S, Reason J (Eds), John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY 1988. p.41.
- Thurber CA, Walton EA. Homesickness and adjustment in university students. J Am Coll Health 2012; 60:415.
- Eisenbruch M. Cultural bereavement and homesickness. In: On the Move: The Psychology of Change and Transition, Fisher S, Cooper CL (Eds), John Wiley and Sons, New York 1990. p.191.
- Eurelings-Bontekoe EH, Brouwers EP, Verschuur MJ. Homesickness among foreign employees of a multinational high-tech company in the Netherlands. Environ Behav 2000; 32:443.
- Griffin-Pierce T. "When I am lonely the mountains call me": the impact of sacred geography on Navajo psychological well being. Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res 1997; 7:1.
- Sandal GM, Endresen IM, Vaernes R, Ursin H. Personality and coping strategies during submarine missions. Mil Psychol 1999; 11:381.
- Schreier AR, Abramovitch H. American medical students in Israel: stress and coping. Med Educ 1996; 30:445.
- Stroebe M, van Vliet T, Hewstone M, Willis H. Homesickness among students in two cultures: antecedents and consequences. Br J Psychol 2002; 93:147.
- Tikoo M. The 1989-90 migration of Kashmiri Pandits: focus on children. Psychol Rep 1994; 75:259.
- Vernberg EM, Field T. Transitional stress in children and young adolescents moving to new environments. In: the Move: The Psychology of Change and Transition, Fisher S, Cooper CL (Eds), John Wiley and Sons, New York 1990. p.127.
- Thurber CA, Sigman MD, Weisz JR, Schmidt CK. Homesickness in preadolescent and adolescent girls: risk factors, behavioral correlates, and sequelae. J Clin Child Psychol 1999; 28:185.
- Thurber CA, Sigman MD. Preliminary models of risk and protective factors for childhood homesickness: review and empirical synthesis. Child Dev 1998; 69:903.
- Thurber CA, Patterson DR, Mount K. Children's adjustment to hospitalization: Is homesickness a factor? Children's Health Care. In press.
- Verschuur MJ, Eurelings-Bontekoe EH, Spinhoven P, Duijsens IJ. Homesickness, temperament and character. Pers Individ Dif 2003; 35:757.
- Kazantzis N, Flett R. Family cohesion and age as determinants of homesickness in university students. Soc Behav Pers 1998; 26:195.
- Urani MA, Miller SA, Johnson JE, Petzel TP. Homesickness in socially anxious first year college students. Coll Stud J 2003; 37:392.
- Tognoli J. Leaving home: Homesickness, place attachment, and transition among residential college students. J Coll Student Psychother 2003; 18:35.
- Alapack MC, Alapack RJ. The hinge of the door to authentic adulthood: A Kierkegaardian inspired synthesis of the meaning of leaving home. J Phenomen Psychol 1984; 15:45.
- van Tilburg MA, Vingerhoets AJ, van Heck GL. Determinants of homesickness chronicity: Coping and personality. Pers Individ Dif 1999; 27:531.
- Hamessley ML. Handbook for Camp Nurses and Other Camp Health Workers, The Tiresias Press, New York 1987.
- Asnes RS, Feldman B, Gersony WM, et al. The medical care of children at summer camps. An evaluation of 1,412 infirmary visits. Am J Dis Child 1974; 128:64.
- Thurber CA, Weisz JR. "You can try or you can just give up": the impact of perceived control and coping style on childhood homesickness. Dev Psychol 1997; 33:508.
- Thurber CA, Weisz JR. Describing boys' coping with homesickness using a two-process model of control. Anxiety Stress Coping 1997; 10:181.
- Vernberg EM, Randall CJ. Homesickness after relocation during early adolescence. In: Psychological Aspects of Geographical Moves: Homesickness and Acculturation Stress, van Tilburg MA, Vingerhoets AJ (Eds), Tilburg University Press, Tilburg, Netherlands 1997. p.165.
- Fisher S, Hood B. The stress of the transition to university: a longitudinal study of psychological disturbance, absent-mindedness and vulnerability to homesickness. Br J Psychol 1987; 78 ( Pt 4):425.
- Fisher S, Hood B. Vulnerability factors in the transition to university: self-reported mobility history and sex differences as factors in psychological disturbance. Br J Psychol 1988; 79 ( Pt 3):309.
- Fisher S, Frazer N, Murray K. Homesickness and health in boarding school children. J Environ Psychol 1986; 6:35.
- Burt CD. Concentration and academic ability following the transition to university: An investigation of the effects of homesickness. J Environ Psychol 1993; 13:333.
- Fisher S, Murray K, Frazer NA. Homesickness, health, and efficiency in first year students. J Environ Psychol 1985; 5:181.
- Furnham A, Bochner S. Culture Shock: Psychological Reactions to Unfamiliar Environments, Methuen, London 1986.
- Hojat M, Herman MW. Adjustment and psychosocial problems of Iranian and Filipino physicians in the U.S. J Clin Psychol 1985; 41:130.
- Thurber CA, Malinowski JC. e Summer Camp Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Find, Choose, and Get Ready for Overnight Camp-and Skip the Homesickness, Perspective Publishing, Los Angeles 2000.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on School Health. Health appraisal guidelines for day camps and resident camps. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health . Pediatrics 2005; 115:1770.
- Berno T, Ward C. Innocence abroad: a pocket guide to psychological research on tourism. Am Psychol 2005; 60:593.
- Thurber CA. The digital umbilical. Camping Magazine 2006; 79:44.
- Britton BK, Pellegrini AD. Narrative Thought and Narrative Language, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ 1990.
- Thurber CA. Avoiding pick-up deals. Paper presented at: American Camp Association National Conference, Chicago, IL 2006.
- Risk factors
- CLINICAL FEATURES
- CLINICAL COURSE
- Planned separations
- Special populations
- - Displaced families
- - Children with special health care needs
- General guidelines
- Summer camp stays
- - Coping strategies
- - Contact with home
- - Pick-up deals
- Hospital stays
- RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS