The use of communication aids with children in health care and the outcomes for the child’s functioning based on the ICF-CY : A systematic literature review

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/HLK, CHILD

Abstract: Background: Participation in every life situation is a basic child’s right. Within health care, participation is achieved by effective patient-provider communication. Increased participation is shown to be beneficial for the well-being of the child. To achieve this, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) could be implemented during the care.  Aim: To explore the use of communication aids with children in health care settings and to see what the outcomes are for a child’s functioning based on the ICF-CY.  Method: A systematic literature review was conducted. The databases MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL and Dentistry and Oral Sciences Source were searched and nine articles were included for review. Results: It was found that both typically developing children and children with a variety of disabilities have been studied, as well as a wide age range. Low-tech aids have been practised most often, particularly visual picture schedules. Five studies measured ‘Activity and participation’ outcomes and the results showed improvement of patient-provider communication and enhanced completion of a medical procedure. Six studies measured outcomes that could be identified as ‘Body functions’ and results showed a decrease in anxiety, stress or pain at some point of the medical procedure.  Conclusion: This systematic literature review shows that AAC is still an emerging concept within health care with children, but the first results suggest that it has benefits for different child populations and for different aspects of a child’s functioning. However, it is not clear what the outcomes are for participation in particular. The limited amount of studies on this topic could be due to several barriers to achieve participation and use of AAC. Future research should focus more on using specific measures for participation. Also, researchers need to explore ways to overcome the barriers to implement AAC. Finally, new technologies such as tablet devices could be studied.

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