BACKGROUND: A growing trend in research is to involve co-researchers. It is referred to as Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and comprises three groups: the patients, the public, and the researchers. Like in adult public involvement, healthy children can also be considered as 'the public'. Paediatric patients and researchers experienced in conducting child-inclusive research are often asked about their attitudes towards the challenges they encounter. This is not the case for healthy children and researchers without such experience. Our aim was to investigate the attitudes of these children and researchers towards the challenges encountered during child-inclusive research.
METHODS: This was an exploratory study. We interviewed healthy children and adult researchers without prior experience in child-inclusive research. We recruited the children through a foundation for young researchers and the adult researchers from two hospitals, both in Groningen, the Netherlands. We audio recorded the interviews, and they were transcribed verbatim. We analysed the data using qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: We interviewed five adult researchers and seven healthy children, aged 9 to 14 years. Both groups thought that it was best to involve children in paediatric research from as early a stage as possible. The children assumed that no prior training would be needed because they had already been trained at school. The researchers' attitudes varied regarding training children beforehand. Both groups thought that researchers did not need prior training on how to involve children if they worked with children on a daily basis. The children felt that recognition and a modest financial reward was appropriate. Adult researchers were cautious about rewarding the children. They feared it might render the children less intrinsically motivated.
CONCLUSION: Our study indicated that young and adult researchers have clear attitudes towards the challenges encountered during child-inclusive research. Young researchers could help adult researchers to find solutions to these challenges, even if they have no prior experience in child-inclusive research. Adult researchers who acknowledge the importance of child-inclusive research represent a significant step towards meaningful involvement of children. Our results imply that children could be involved in the decision-making process concerning the challenges encountered in child-inclusive research.