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Health professionals’ and managers' definitions of developmentally appropriate healthcare for young people: conceptual dimensions and embedded controversies

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Victoria Wood, Professor Jeremy Parr, Dr Tim Rapley



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Objectives: We aimed to (i) explore how health professionals and managers who work with young people seek to define developmentally appropriate healthcare (DAH); (ii) identify the range of conceptual dimensions present in their definitions; and (iii) explore the controversies embedded in their characterisations of DAH. Methods: A qualitative multi-site ethnographic study was conducted across three hospitals in England. We undertook: non-participant observations in clinics, wards and meetings; and formal face-to-face semi-structured one-off interviews with some health professionals and managers and serial interviews with others. Data underwent thematic analysis. The theme ‘conceptualisations of DAH’ was then further coded; codes were collated into themes; and themes categorised to form conceptual dimensions. Results: 192 participants were recruited. 65 interviews (41 with health professionals and 24 with managers) and approximately 1600 hours of non-participant observations (involving 103 health professionals and 72 managers) were conducted. Despite the wide range of definitions provided by participants, five conceptual dimensions of DAH were identified: (i) bio-psycho-social development and holistic care; (ii) acknowledgement of young people as a distinct group; (iii) adjustment of care as the young person develops; (iv) empowerment of the young person by embedding health education and health promotion; and (v) interdisciplinary and inter-organisational work. Also, some controversies were identified within most dimensions. Conclusions: This study illustrates the lack of a generalised definition of DAH for young people among UK health professionals and managers, and presents a set of five core dimensions that can inform future research to help define and evaluate DAH for young people.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Farre A, Wood V, McDonagh JE, Parr J, Reape D, Rapley T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood

Year: 2016

Volume: 101

Issue: 7

Pages: 628-633

Print publication date: 01/07/2016

Online publication date: 04/03/2016

Acceptance date: 14/02/2016

Date deposited: 06/05/2016

ISSN (print): 0003-9888

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2044

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/archdischild-2015-309473


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Funder referenceFunder name
RP-PG-0610-10112National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)