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.