Health professionals' perspectives on children's and young people's participation in health care: A qualitative multihospital study

Inge Schalkers*, Cathleen S. Parsons, Joske Fg Bunders, Christine Dedding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims and objectives: To investigate healthcare professionals' perspectives on child participation in paediatric hospital care and their opinions on improving participation practices. Background: Some scholars argue that the decision-making capacities of children largely depend on the attitudes of healthcare professionals rather than on the children's own competences. Healthcare professionals' perspectives on children's participation in hospital care remain largely unexplored. Design: Qualitative descriptive design. Methods: Healthcare professionals (n = 32) from 10 paediatric wards in the Netherlands participated in semi-structured interviews. Shier's Pathways to Participation model (2001) was used to guide the interviews. Results: Participation is not a term that is frequently used by professionals; however, they feel familiar with the ideas underlying the term, and it is perceived as being at the core of their work. Professionals believe that high levels of participation are possible in basic care for children. Participation in medical decision-making is considered to be more complex and subject to a number of reservations and restrictions. The participants expressed a strong need to enhance child participation in service evaluation and to increase the respect for and understanding of the rights of children to participate outside of the paediatric unit, including in the surgery and emergency departments. Conclusion: Children do not currently participate in the assessment of hospital services. Creative methods that support the role of children in evaluating and improving the quality of paediatric hospital care and services should be developed. Hospital-wide policies could help to promote understanding of child participation among all professionals caring for children in hospitals. Relevance to clinical practice: Based on international agreements that the Netherlands has ratified, professionals have the duty to facilitate child participation in hospital care. Concrete opportunities and ideas on how to accomplish this goal in practice are provided, and areas for improvement are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1044
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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