Children's participation in consultations and decision-making at health service level: a review of the literature

Int J Nurs Stud. 2008 Nov;45(11):1682-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.05.002. Epub 2008 Aug 15.


Background: The past decade has seen a growing recognition in Ireland and internationally that children and young people have a right to participate in matters that affect their lives.

Objectives: To critique the research literature on children's, parents and healthcare professionals' experiences of children's participation in consultations and decision-making within the healthcare setting.

Method: The literature was obtained from electronic databases, books, and journals focusing on work published in between 1993 and 2007.

Results: Despite the importance of consulting with sick children, their views are rarely sought nor acknowledged within the healthcare setting. Children are rarely involved in decision-making process and appear to occupy a marginalized position in healthcare encounters. Healthcare professionals and parents play a significant influence on whether children's efforts to participate are facilitated and supported in the hospital setting.

Conclusions: There is a need for further research to explore health professionals' and parents' perspectives on children's participation in consultations and decision-making, as clearly they have reservations/concerns about children's active involvement in such matters. This information could be used to develop guidelines that will assist professionals and parents in facilitating and supporting children's participation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child Advocacy*
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Child, Hospitalized / statistics & numerical data
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Freedom
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Nursing Research
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation* / methods
  • Patient Participation* / psychology
  • Patient Participation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Power, Psychological
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Psychology, Child
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration*
  • Role
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support