Children's participation in decision-making: balancing protection with shared decision-making using a situational perspective

J Child Health Care. 2011 Dec;15(4):312-9. doi: 10.1177/1367493511406570. Epub 2011 Aug 9.


Children's participation in decision-making in the health care setting is complex because parents and health professionals tend to take a protective stance towards children to act in their best interest. Children prefer to be protected in some situations and to share decision-making in others. Adults in the health care setting need to consider children as individuals, rather than as a homogenous group, and take into account that a child's competence and preferences will depend on the circumstances in every situation. This article argues for a situational perspective of children's participation to act in the child's best interest and to balance protection with shared decision-making, according to children's rights and desires.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Health Services*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Rights*