Wednesday 7 December 2011
Major report identifies gaps in children's health information
The Children's Health Information Matters report, published in conjunction with the National Institute for Health Research Service Delivery (NIHR), highlights the need for children to be provided with information that is engaging, accessible, accurate and appropriate for their age.
Children and young people who have chronic health conditions or need operations don't always have access to the high-quality, child-friendly information they need to understand what is happening to them. The report's authors point out that although there are some strengths in the health information provided for children and their families, there are also significant weaknesses and gaps. They believe their research identifies a clear need to address how children's health information is developed and delivered.
Joint study lead Professor Jane Noyes, from the Centre for Health-Related Research at Bangor University said,
It has given us a clearer understanding of what needs to be done so that the right child receives the right information at the right time.
The team were particularly interested in health information that focused on children's self-care and medicine management and wanted to know the best way to design and deliver health information in partnership with children and their families.
Key findings of the research include:
- Despite the growing number of children's health information resources, including books, leaflets, toys, games, DVDs and websites, there are significant gaps in provision.
- Children want their health information resources to be more realistic and meaningful and matched with their age, circumstances - including family, home, school or college - and differing health needs.
- They also want health information at key points, such as at diagnosis, starting school, changing school, growing up with the condition, lifestyle issues and the transition to adult care.
- Children often struggle to manage their health conditions and medicines at school because teachers and pupils don't have the information they need to understand their illness.
- Information is often conveyed verbally by healthcare professionals and children can forget the advice they have been given.
- Many resources are not free or not accessible to the NHS. Nurses and doctors who do have access to high-quality resources would benefit from more support about the best way to use them. Nurses and specialist nurses play a particularly crucial role in children's health information.
- Many family members also want high-quality health information about their child/sibling's condition and care and some, but not all, obtain information for the child.
- Some parents filter the health information they find, which means that their children do not necessarily have the important information they need to look after themselves.
Read the complete report Children's Health Information Matters: Researching the practice of and requirements for age appropriate health information for children and young people or view the lay summary.