Teaching children in low-income countries to assess claims about treatment effects: prioritization of key concepts

J Evid Based Med. 2015 Nov;8(4):173-80. doi: 10.1111/jebm.12176.


Background: Health-related knowledge and behaviours developed during childhood are increasingly being recognized as foundational, deeply rooted and resistant to change as children mature into adulthood. The aim of this study was to engage stakeholders in prioritizing key concepts that children need to understand when assessing claims about treatment effects.

Methods: A list of 30 concepts developed prior was categorized into six groups considered important for children to understand in order to assess claims about the effects of "treatments" (any type of healthcare intervention). A teachers' network was established comprising of primary school teachers, who attended a three-day meeting where the concepts were presented, discussed and prioritized using a pre-set criteria thus: (i) relevance of concepts for children, (ii) ease of comprehension of concepts for children, (iii) potential for developing resources to teach the children and (iv) whether the resources once developed would have an impact on children's ability to assess claims. Using a modified Delphi technique, participants ranked each group of concepts using the four criteria on a Likert scale of one to six (1 = lowest, 6 = highest). The rankings were analysed using STATA statistical software.

Results: Twenty-two of the 24 participants reported having understood the concepts well; with self-assessments of their own understanding above 75 on a scale of (1 to 100). All six groups of concepts were considered relevant.

Conclusion: It is important to teach children how to assess claims about benefits and harms of treatments. Resources will be developed to teach children these concepts.

Keywords: Benefits and risks; child; patient harm; risk; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Young Adult