Background Children suffer adverse drug reactions (ADRs) yet there is no research on their experiences and no guidance for practitioners on how to communicate with children and young people in this context.
Aims To investigate children and young people’s experiences of ADRs to inform communication strategies within paediatric settings.
Methods Semi-structured qualitative interviews with children and young people who had experienced a suspected ADR. Interpretive analysis informed by the constant comparative approach.
Results Interviews with 20 children and young people aged 6–18 years suggest variable experiences. Key themes include poor awareness of potential ADRs; feeling frightened and confused by the symptoms of a suspected ADR, and the important role of parents in mediating information about medicines. Children and young people linked symptoms with medicines using temporal association, the absence of a plausible alternative explanations and challenge re-challenge and they described weighing up the risks and benefits of medicines for the future. Children and young people demonstrated a good understanding of the Yellow Card Scheme and wanted to know about, or participate in the reporting of suspected ADRs.
Conclusion Results suggest there is considerable room to enhance communication with children and young people about ADRs. Common ground between how children and young people evaluate ADRs and how parents and clinicians do so suggests a useful starting point. The need for improved communication with parents, who act as mediators, is also indicated. Consideration should be given to how children and young people could be involved in pharmacovigilance for paediatric medicines.