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Participation of Children in Medical Decision-Making: Challenges and Potential Solutions

Abstract

Participation in healthcare decision-making is considered to be an important right of minors, and is highlighted in both international legislation and public policies. However, despite the legal recognition of children’s rights to participation, and also the benefits that children experience by their involvement, there is evidence that legislation is not always translated into healthcare practice. There are a number of factors that may impact on the ability of the child to be involved in decisions regarding their medical care. Some of these factors relate to the child, including their capacity to be actively involved in these decisions. Others relate to the family situation, sociocultural context, or the underlying beliefs and practices of the healthcare provider involved. In spite of these challenges to including children in decisions regarding their clinical care, we argue that it is an important factor in their treatment. The extent to which children should participate in this process should be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking all of the potential barriers into account.

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Acknowledgements

Research Fund Flanders (Belgium) and the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et des Exportations du Québec, PSR-SIIRI-850 (Canada).

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Jeremic, V., Sénécal, K., Borry, P. et al. Participation of Children in Medical Decision-Making: Challenges and Potential Solutions. Bioethical Inquiry 13, 525–534 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-016-9747-8

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Keywords

  • Child
  • Adolescent
  • Participation
  • Healthcare
  • Decision-making