Children’s participation in the decision-making process on matters regarding their health

Guide to children’s participation in decisions about their health

International human rights instruments recognise that children are rights holders with evolving abilities to make decisions in all aspects of their lives, of which health care is a part. 
Research also provides evidence of multiple benefits of meaningful participation relating to health and health care, and this has increasingly been considered an important contributor to high-quality care for children and to enable them to achieve the best possible state of health. 
However, there is often uncertainty as to how to support the practical realisation of effective child participation in real-world health care situations that are often complex, and accounting for differing legislative frameworks and the roles of other actors such as parents and health professionals. As a result, children currently experience a wide spectrum of practice across member states of the Council of Europe and there is always room for improvement. 
The Guide provides practical guidance, primarily for health care professionals, about how to involve all children in decision-making processes concerning their own health. It provides the reader with a concise understanding of the theoretical and legal context and progresses to describe important components of the decision-making process, helping health professionals to understand their role in supporting children, families, and other professionals to enact this in practice. Key concepts of consent, assent, and ‘best interests’ are discussed, as well as common health care situations where participation in decision-making may sometimes be perceived as more challenging. Examples and links to good practice are provided throughout.
 

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This video was developed by TEDDY Network and TEDDY Kids, in coordination with the Council of Europe. A group of children took part in its design; they were aged between 12 and 18 years, coming from Italy, France, Greece and Albania, and included young patients and healthy children. It targets children of a similar age group.