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Hospitals 'must consult child patients'


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.


Readers' comments (4)

  • tinkerbell

    This MUST happen. Some children are more mature than so called adults. They MUST have a say in their care. It is mind blowingly obvious that they are more frightened when left out of this process. Please let it happen and soon. If a group of children ruled the world then out of their wisdom hunger and poverty would be things of the past, cruelty and war would come to an end. They have insights and understanding that adults seem to have lost. They have wisdom beyond their years.

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  • I am surprised and appalled that an article even needs to be written on a study of what I would take for granted. what is wrong with the health service in britain and those who work in it? it seems to be emerging from the dark ages. perhaps it is time we abolished the nhs and got at up to date state of the art system. the papers seem to be full of the nhs under scrutiny for its substandard and archaic practices. does everyone who works in in require evidence based research to teach them basic common sense and respect for fellow human beings?

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  • tinkerbell

    seems like some have been educated out of all the common sense they were ever born with. Thank God there are good doctors and nurses who do this as a natural instinct but sadly to make it happen as a matter of course this needs to happen. I wish Imelda every success to make it happen ASAP. Children should never be talked over and not involved in what is happening or being done to them or denied the right of trying to understand their treatment. For Gods sake. It is so sad that this is still needing to be addressed. Any parent of a sick child will know how devastating this is.

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  • not only children. i have seen many beds and chairs (with patients in them) being talked over by a group of doctors and students in highfalutin medical jargon as if they were not there!

    at least we got rid of referring to patients as a case or bed number so perhaps we can refuse to tolerate this poor, destructive and unnecessary behaviour as well.

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