When it comes to making health decisions, most children feel
apprehensive and angry when not included in the decision-making process,
according to a study.
Children aged 7 to 18 years were selected from 10 wards and two clinics
in three Ireland hospitals. Using a combination of focus groups and single
interviews, children in the study were asked a series of questions that focused
on experiences of the hospital, communication interactions with health
care staff, taking part (or not) in communication and decision-making,
preferences for decision-making and factors that influenced
The researchers found that when the children were involved they felt
valued, happy and less anxious than when they were ignored and not included in
Children in this study wanted to participate in communication
exchanges and have their viewpoints and concerns taken seriously, the
researchers wrote. They wanted to be included and felt that they had a
right to participate because it was about matters that affected them and their
Children in the study described being left alone while health
professionals spoke in private with their parents about procedures, being
ignored after giving health professionals specific information about their
preferences related to health care, as well as being ignored by their parents.
In all these situations, the children recalled feeling more apprehensive and
angry than when they were included.
Overall, health professionals communication styles and behaviors
and parents actions played a significant role in supporting or hindering
childrens participation, according to the study.
Communicating with and including children in decisions according
to their preferences, conveys respect, enhances and develops their
decision-making capabilities and contributes to psychosocial well-being,
the researchers wrote. Given that childrens participation improves
the quality of care provided, it is an important investment and one that
requires adults to move to a child-centered approach in how they relate to
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial