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Children want a say in medical treatment

Children in hospital should be consulted about their medical care, say Trinity College medical experts.

Health professionals and parents need to be more sensitive to the emotional needs of children with acute and chronic illnesses, says the group.

Interviews with children and teenagers, carried out by the TCD School of Midwifery and Nursing, revealed they often feel angry and scared about being excluded from discussions about their hospital care.

They said they had a right to participate in discussions.

Most reported that health professionals tended to "do things" to them with very brief explanations or none at all.

Many said that they could not ask questions because consultations were too rushed or because they did not understand the medical terminology being used.


The team, under Prof Imelda Coyne, spoke to 55 children and teenagers between the ages of seven and 18 in three hospitals.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, show most children wanted to take decisions relating to their everyday care, diet and medication.

While some wanted to share in more "serious" decisions about issues like surgery, nearly half preferred to leave these choices to parents and health professionals.

One 13-year-old girl told researchers: "He kept having to talk to mam on her own and I was getting really worried ... I need to know because otherwise I'm going to be sitting there panicking going all paranoid about the worst scenario."