Barriers to hearing the voice of children in research

So my mission is to involve children in research – not as subjects but as collaborators to ensure we listen to their voice – here I really mean listen to and not just hear.

I was pleased to see an article recently titled, “Back to school: challenges and rewards of engaging young children in scientific research”. Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2015-310347.

This article clearly expresses the need to engage with children but states that, “Unfortunately doctors’ reluctance about their patients’ participation in research, whether on the grounds of lack of equipoise or the additional workload that this may entail, remains one of the major barriers to research” This is such a sad statement that doctors are seen as a barrier to their patients’ wellbeing and it is one I know is not true on a day to day basis. However, it is true that engaging in research is time-consuming and time is the biggest barrier not the merits of engaging with children.

There are many hurdles to research and working with children add to these – however the benefits far outweigh those barriers. The enthusiasm with which children can engage in research and the new insights they bring is a joy to any researcher and their energy is contagious.

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