Aims To investigate differences in healthcare priorities between children (<12 years), adolescents (13–15 years) and young adults (16–18 years).
Methods Data were analysed from the 2010 Council of Europe survey into child-friendly healthcare. 2023 respondents under the age of 18 from 8 European countries rated the importance of 9 healthcare factors.
Having your parent/family with you
Knowing the name of the doctor/nurse
Having treatment explained in advance/being prepared
Being able to understand what the doctor is saying
Being able to ask questions
Being listened to
Not being afraid
Not being in pain
Not feeling rushed
The relative importance of items was compared within each age group using mean score differences and between age groups using logistic regression.
Results All age groups rated being listened to as the most important item. Children rated being with parents more important than understanding the doctor (mean difference (x) = 0.47 (95% Confidence Interval 0.21,.72)). This finding was reversed among adolescents (x = –0.74 (–0.97, –0.50)) and young adults (x = –1.67 (–1.95, –1.38)). Similarly, being with parents was rated more important than being able to ask questions for children (x = 0.91 (.62, 1.21)) but the reverse was found for adolescents (x = 0.36 (–0.62, 0.11)) and young adults (x = –1.44 (–1.75, –1.14)).
Among children, pain control scored higher than understanding doctors (x = 0.31 (.07, 0.54)) and asking questions (x = 0.80 (.51, 1.08)). There was no significant difference between these items for adolescents (x = –0.09 (–0.32, 0.13)) and x = 0.24 (.00, 0.48)) respectively. Among young adults, pain control was less important than understanding doctors (x = –0.38 (–0.61, –0.14)) and equally important to asking questions (x = –0.22 (–0.48, 0.03)).
The changes in relative priorities between childhood and adolescence remained significant in the logistic regression models after adjusting for sex, long standing illness and nationality (all p < 0.001).
Conclusion Healthcare priorities differ significantly between childhood and early adolescence. However, being listened to was rated the most important priority at all ages.