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Keywords:

  • access;
  • children;
  • communication;
  • consent;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • ethics gate-keepers;
  • phenomenology;
  • health services;
  • research;
  • consumers

Researching children: issues arising from a phenomenological study with children who have diabetes mellitus

In Britain the incidence of diabetes mellitus in children is increasing. These children are health care consumers and will continue to be throughout their lives. It is important that their views are sought regarding their health care condition. A phenomenological study was undertaken with six children aged 7–12 years regarding their experience of living with diabetes. This research highlighted several issues regarding the conduct of research with children. Access to children required negotiation with the ethics committee and the parents. It was also important to seek the consent of the children via the signing of a consent form, as well as an on-going process throughout the conduct of the research. In addition, appropriate communication methods had to be utilized, acknowledging the age and abilities of individual children. The use of both verbal and non-verbal communication skills were important, but the use of non-verbal skills appeared to be the most significant. Researchers should not be bound by the supposed abilities of children and should take care not to underestimate the awareness and maturity that some children possess when addressing issues of concern to themselves. When given the opportunity, children were keen to express their views and were very articulate in doing so. There is much scope for future research studies seeking children’s perceptions about their health care condition.