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Keywords:

  • children and young people;
  • choice;
  • decision-making;
  • information;
  • nursing;
  • scoping review

Abstract

Title. Is children’s choice in health care rhetoric or reality? A scoping review.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a scoping review examining children and young people’s health services with respect to choice in order to inform future development of choice initiatives.

Background.  The importance of including children and young people in the choice agenda reflects the increasing acknowledgement that, individually and collectively, they are important consumers of health care in their own right.

Data sources.  A scoping review of all major health and medical research databases was undertaken using current guidelines to identify original relevant research papers and grey literature sources from 1990 to 2006.

Review methods.  Reference Manager software was used to collate, summarize, categorize, store and retrieve the search results. Papers meeting the inclusion criteria were read in full and descriptively summarized using a data extraction sheet. Each paper was repeatedly selected using a snowballing approach until saturation was reached.

Results.  Children and young people want more say in the planning and development of appropriate hospital and community health services. However, little evaluative research was found about whether these choices are acted upon and lead to more responsive services.

Conclusion.  Choice for children and young people is viewed as a positive development in health care and many innovative examples of their involvement in decision-making were found. These illustrated that, given the opportunity, children and young people are willing and able to make decisions about their healthcare services. However, there is a long way to go before the rhetoric of the choice agenda is realized.