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Br J Nurs. 2007 Feb 8-21;16(3):157-60.

The child's right to participate in research: myth or misconception?

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  • 1School of Health Science, Child Health Team, University of Wales, Swansea.


The growing acceptance of the need for children's participation in any issues that affect them, including research, has been fuelled by the 'children's rights' agenda, which has occurred in the UK since the ratification in 1991 of the UN 'Convention on the Rights of the Child' (UNCRC, 1989), which provides a framework for the development of national policies and laws to protect the rights of children (O'Hallorhan, 1999). There is a clear indication of this both within the UNCRC (1989) and the growing 'sociology of childhood', where the importance of children actively constructing their own lives by, for example, participating in and negotiating their own health care, education and social welfare by utilizing skills that go unrecognized (Mayall, 1998). With the current emphasis in the NHS on evidence-based care there is a need for those working with children and young people to include best evidence from research with children (as opposed to 'on' children) in both clinical and healthcare decisions. Recommendations for future research with children include the use of more innovative methodologies, such as action research and focus groups that will enable children to actively participate and to describe personal experiences through their own unique points of view.

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