• Open Access

‘[I would like] a place to be alone, other than the toilet’ – Children's perspectives on paediatric hospital care in the Netherlands

Authors

  • Inge Schalkers MSc,

    Junior Researcher, Corresponding author
    1. Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    • Correspondence

      Inge Schalkers, MSc

      Junior Researcher

      Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences

      Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences

      Free University of Amsterdam

      De Boelelaan 1085

      1081 HV Amsterdam

      The Netherlands

      E-mail: i.schalkers@vu.nl

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  • Christine W. M. Dedding PhD,

    Assistant Professor
    1. Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Joske F. G. Bunders PhD

    Professor
    1. Athena Institute for Research on Innovation and Communication in Health and Life Sciences, Free University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Background

Although it is widely recognized that children are willing, capable and legally entitled to be active participants in their health care, parents are generally invited to evaluate paediatric hospital care and services rather than children themselves. This is problematic because parents cannot serve as the only spokespersons for the perspectives and experiences of children.

Objective

To investigate children's experiences with and perspectives on the quality of hospital care and services in the Netherlands, and how they think care and services could be improved.

Design

A qualitative study incorporating different participatory data collection methods, including photovoice and children writing a letter to the chief executive of the hospital.

Setting

Paediatric departments of eight hospitals in the Netherlands (two teaching and six regional).

Participants

Children and adolescents (= 63) with either acute or chronic disorders, aged between 6 and 18 years.

Results

The research results provide insights into children's health and social well-being in hospitals. Important aspects of health, like being able to sleep well and nutrition that fits children's preferences, are structurally being neglected.

Conclusion

The participatory approach brought children's ideas ‘alive’ and generated concrete areas for improvement that stimulated hospitals to take action. This demonstrates that participatory methods are not merely tools to gather children's views but can serve as vehicles for creating health-care services that more closely meet children's own needs and wishes.

Ancillary