Aim: This paper is a report of a systematic literature review of research on parent participation in the care of hospitalized children.
Background: Research prior to 1994 found that parents want to participate in basic child care activities normally performed at home. Nurses expected parents to participate in these activities but were reluctant for parents to take on technical roles. Further research has been conducted over the last decade, but has not been systematically reviewed.
Data sources: A search of biomedical research, published between January 1994 and June 2006, was conducted using the databases CINAHL, PsychInfo, Embase and Medline. The search terms related to parents, participation and hospitalized children.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted and study findings were extracted, summarized and critiqued in relation to their contribution to knowledge about parent participation.
Results: Twenty-one descriptive studies were found which investigated the following dimensions of parent participation: parents' and healthcare professionals' needs, desires and expectations; parent and healthcare professionals' attitudes; parent roles and healthcare professional facilitation activities. Ways in which nurses gave parents instruction and guidance to participate effectively in the care of their hospitalized child were examined in five intervention studies.
Conclusion: Recent research has confirmed parents' desire and expectations to participate in their child's care and shown how the nature of their participation has evolved. The attitudes and activities of healthcare professionals are both barriers and facilitators to parent participation. Further research is needed to examine how parents' expectations differ between specialties and acute and chronic care and ways of facilitating parent participation.