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Listening to children and young people in healthcare consultations

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Title:Listening to children and young people in healthcare consultations

Edited by: Sarah Redsell and Adrian Hastings

Publisher:Radcliffe Publishing, 2010

Reviewer:Alison Taylor, paediatric practice development nurse, Western Sussex Hospitals Trust


What was it like?

This book explores the involvement of children and young people and their families in consultations about their health. This cornerstone of good-quality care is emphasised as a necessity rather than a luxury extra, and it is considered from many different angles, not least good communication skills.

What were the highlights? 

Contributions come from a number of academics and clinicians in several, mainly community-based, fields of children’s health, therefore this book is  well evidenced.

Strengths & weaknesses

The historical backdrop to the issues at hand is provided by an excellent discussion of children’s changing status in society and the health and social context of childhood during the last two centuries. The influence of such major figures as Bowlby and Robertson in furthering our understanding of children’s needs and the concept of family-centred care is explored, along with significant government policy relating to children.

Case studies and vignettes are used throughout the book to illustrate the sometimes subtle points being made. They are particularly effective in emphasising the important cues provided by a child’s behaviour during a consultation. How to communicate with children is a difficult thing to pin down, but a step-by-step approach and suggestions of practical techniques and questions to use when framing such conversations with children and young people are provided. However, the importance of play therapy in communication is rather underplayed. This practical guidance considers the issues from the perspective of professionals, parents and carers and the children themselves.

Young carers and children with disabilities are given specific chapters, which is useful. There is also a good section on legal issues, with clear explanations of legal principles, such as Gillick competence, which are specific to children and young people’s care.

A chapter examining the roles and responsibilities of different health, education and social care professionals in communicating with children and young people is exclusively focused on primary and community care. Although the A&E setting is given specific attention in the last chapter, it would have been good to see more reference to acute children’s care settings in general. Also lacking is examination of the issues related to transition from children’s to adult services. Considering this is such a crucial time to ensure empowerment of young people and foster good communication with them, this is rather surprising.

This book is readable and its use of text boxes, bullet points and short chapters makes it accessible and a useful resource.

Who should read it?

This book would be particularly suitable for medical staff and students, community health professionals and student nurses.

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