Child participation in triadic medical consultations: A scoping review and summary of promotive interventions

Patient Educ Couns. 2023 Aug;113:107749. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2023.107749. Epub 2023 Apr 11.


Objectives: To promote patient centered care, children with health issues should be supported to participate in consultations with health care professionals. We aimed to summarize, in a scoping review, the evidence on child participation in triadic encounters and its promotive interventions.

Methods: Two researchers systematically searched four major databases, and included studies on child participation in medical consultations. A synthesis of quantitative and qualitative data was made.

Results: Of 1678 retrieved records, 39 papers were included: 22 quantitative, 14 qualitative and 3 mixed-methods studies. Child participation, measured by utterances, turns or speech time, ranged between 4% and 14%. Participation increased with age. Equidistant seating arrangements, child-directed gaze and finding the appropriate tone of voice by the physician promoted child participation. Despite all facilitative efforts of doctors and parents, such as social talk, eHealth tools or consultation education, no increase in child participation was observed over the last 50 years.

Conclusions: Children continue to participate only marginally in medical consultations, despite their desire to be involved in various aspects of the clinical encounter and their right to have their voice heard.

Practice implications: Health care professionals should provide more opportunities for children to participate in triadic medical encounters and create an inclusive environment.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Physicians*
  • Referral and Consultation