Exploring children's experiences of staying in hospital from the perspectives of children and children's nurses using child-centered methodology

  • Sonya Clarke

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


Purpose of thesis
To 'explore the child's experience of staying in hospital from the perspectives of children and children's nurses using child - centred methodology'. Rationale for this research Children living in the United Kingdom (UK) are a significant group within the population whose needs differ to those of adults. As children continue to have health related issues they require robust empirical evidence to underpin their healthcare which values the child as a rights holder. This study seeks the less sought voice of the younger child along with that of the children's nurse who provides the majority of care to the hospitalised child. Both groups are ideally placed to advise on the child's experience of hospital and to inform those who design and provide health care services and children's nursing education within Northern Ireland (NI) and wider UK. Based on a narrative literature review, it would seem that no similar study has thus far been undertaken in NI.

Key research questions
There were three research questions. Firstly, to seek the views and feelings of children who had an overnight stay in one of four wards when cared for by a Registered Children's Nurse. Secondly to explore the views and experiences of Registered Children's Nurses on providing nursing care to children who stay overnight in hospital. Thirdly to identify any 'differences' and 'similarities' in the way the child's hospital stay are perceived by the child and the Registered Children's Nurse.

Methods employed.
A child research advisory group (CRAG) of five primary school children from year six and seven assists/guides all stages of the research process in relation to child participants. A broad qualitative approach is adopted using semi structured interview so gather data. Participants include hospitalised children (n= 18) aged six to 12 years old and Registered Children's Nurses (n=8) who care for children in one (or more) of four wards within Ni's regional children's hospital. A computer programme with a choice of two cartoon characters is co-developed to ask the child research questions. Braun and Clarke's (2006) framework of thematic analysis is adopted by this study.

Key findings/conclusions
In conclusion, the development and work of the CRAG and use of 'tensions' to more effectively present the complexity of the findings are unique to this study. Tensions are used in this study to represent the relationship between variables where the different elements in the relationship are held in tension, such that a change in one impacts upon the other. For example, tensions in data collected from children are between the 'child as a person in hospital and 'the role of people' and 'the things children consider important'. Tensions derived from children's nurse data are between 'the role of the children's nurse and the impact on their health and well-being', 'job pressures and the ability to care for the child in hospital and 'the hospital environment and the ability to care for the child when in hospital'. Similarities between the two data sets include the environment, lack of time to care, effects of nurse led interventions and valued role of play. Differences are largely around the role of the parent.
Date of AwardJul 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJoanne Hughes (Supervisor) & Katrina Lloyd (Supervisor)


  • Hospital
  • Nursing
  • Childrens nursing

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