New guidelines should be introduced to ensure that patients under the age of 18 are more involved in discussions about their treatment, researchers have said.
A study in Dublin found that leaving children out of conversations about their care can often make them feel more worried about their hospital stay.
The study involved 55 youngsters aged seven to 18 who were undergoing treatment at three different hospitals.
The researchers found that child patients were more likely to feel scared and angry when they were not given enough information about their care.
They called for guidelines to be introduced to ensure that children are listened to when it comes to their treatment.
The results of the study have been published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
Key findings of the study included:
- The children wanted to take part in discussions and have their views and concerns taken seriously.
- Significant factors that enhanced participation were familiarity with the hospital and procedures, the child’s age, their relationship with health professionals and how long they were in hospital.
- The way health professionals communicated and behaved was a key barrier to children getting involved. Most of the children reported that health professionals tended to “do things” to them with very brief explanations or none at all.
“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 wellbeing.
“Adopting a child-centred approach is an important investment,” said Professor Imelda Coyne from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin.