Children who are excluded from discussions about their hospital care often feel scared and angry that no-one is listening to them or telling them what is going on. That's why health professionals and parents need to do more to consult them and include them in decisions, according to research published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
Irish researchers spoke to 55 children and teenagers, aged from seven to 18, from three hospitals, individually or in focus groups. The feedback they received has led the Dublin-based team to call for guidelines to ensure that children's voices are heard when it comes to matters that directly affect their health.
"Healthcare professionals and parents appear to play a significant role in whether children are encouraged and able to take part in decisions about their health" says Professor Imelda Coyne from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin. "Clearly some may have reservations or concerns about children's participation and this suggests the need for clear guidelines/policies that reflect the views of all stakeholders."
There were equal numbers of children with acute and chronic illnesses in the study, from wards and clinics in both general and children's hospitals. Most had been hospitalised before (71 per cent) stayed less than seven days (85 per cent) and lived with two parents (80 per cent).
Key findings of the study included:
The children's comments included:
"Despite the large number of reports and publications supporting children's right to participate, the actual implementation of the principle in healthcare is questionable" says Professor Coyne.
"Healthcare organisations need to develop cultures where participation is firmly embedded, not just a desirable add-on. Communicating with children, and including them in decisions about their care, conveys respect, enhances and develops their decision-making capabilities and contributes to psychosocial well-being. Adopting a child-centered approach is an important investment."
|Contact: Annette Whibley|