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Involving Children With Cancer in Health Promotive Research : A Case Study Describing Why, What, and How

Nygren, Jens M., Lindberg, Susanne, Wärnestål, Pontus, Svedberg, Petra

Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)


Background: Participatory research approaches have been introduced to meet end-users’ needs in the development of health promotion interventions among children. However, whereas children are increasingly involved as passive informants in particular parts of research, they are rarely involved as partners, equal to adult researchers, throughout the research process. This is especially prominent in the context of child health where the child is commonly considered to be vulnerable or when the research concerns sensitive situations. In these cases, researchers and gatekeepers to children’s involvement base their resistance to active involvement of children on potential adverse effects on the accuracy or quality of the research or on ethical or moral principles that participation might harm the child. Thus most research aimed at developing health promotion interventions for children in health care is primarily based on the involvement of parents, caregivers, and other stakeholders.

Objective: The objective of this paper is to discuss reasons for involving children in health promotive research and to explore models for children’s participation in research as a basis for describing how researchers can use design methodology and participatory approaches to support the participation and contribution of children in a vulnerable context.

Methods: We developed and applied a model for children's participation in research to the development of a digital peer support service for children cancer survivors. This guided the selection of appropriate research and design methodologies (such as interviews, focus groups, design sessions, and usability evaluation) for involving the children cancer survivors (8-12 years) in the design of a digital peer support service.

Results: We present a model for what children’s participation in research means and describe how we practically implemented this model in a research project on children with cancer. This paper can inform researchers in their planning of strategies for children’s participation and ensure future development of health promotion interventions for children is based on their perspectives.

Conclusions: Challenges in reaching a suitable degree of participation during a research project involve both creating opportunities for children to have genuine influence on the research process and organizing this involvement so that they feel they understand what they are involved in and why. To achieve this, it is essential to enable children to be involved in research over time to gain confidence in the researchers and to develop children’s abilities to make decisions throughout the research processes.

Nyckelord: children; participation; involvement; research

Citera: Nygren, Jens M., Lindberg, Susanne, Wärnestål, Pontus & Svedberg, Petra, Involving Children With Cancer in Health Promotive Research A Case Study Describing Why, What, and How, JMIR Research Protocols., 6:2, 2017https://doi.org/10.2196/resprot.7094