It is important to give children the opportunity to take part in research that may improve understanding of their lives or increase knowledge about childhood conditions. Research with children is essential to ensure they can benefit from new interventions designed for their needs.
Researchers who are working with children will need to consider:
- additional ethics issues arising from working with this group
- general ethics guidance on human participant research.
Children and young people must be understood within the context of their stage of growth and development. It is often not scientific or ethical to apply findings from research with adults to them, for example adult drug formulations are often inappropriate for children. Children also require special protection because they:
- are less likely than adults to be able to express their needs or defend their interests
- may not have the capacity to give consent.
Key challenges to undertaking research with children include:
- their potential vulnerability
- issues of capacity
- legal protections
- the need to adapt study designs and outcome measures for this age-group.
Above all, research with children involves a partnership with both the child and their family.