Children´s voices in health care

Children´s voices in health care

A video etnography of health routines and daily interaction at an oncology unit in Sweden.

Camilla Rindstedt
The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation
Project: 2011-2012

Aims and Background

This project will cover conversational patterns at an oncology unit at a children’s hospital. A point of departure is how different categories of health personnel interact with children and parents. The focus is on multiparty conversations and children’s place in adult child encounters with doctors, nurses and parents.


Data collection involves fieldwork carried out with a video ethnographic method (Ochs et al 2006). Five children have been followed during one year. The corpus of data is a total of 93 hours of video recorded interactions between children-parents-staff, fieldnotes and interviews.

The choice of methods here also entails a choice of theoretical approaches: a combination of linguistic anthropology (Duranti 1997) and conversational analytic research (Maynard 2003). Language is seen as social action and analyses of everyday interaction constitute central element in the theoretical analyses.

The study connects to the notion of a child perspective and refers to that the researcher highlights children’s condition, voices, and agency. Through a detailed analysis of the hospital environment at a micro level of analysis, this study tries to highlight the everyday complications and dilemmas in health care practices.

Workplan and preliminary results

Needle procedures are among the procedures that children find most distressing, frightening and painful (Hedén et al 2008). My data show that even a young toddler could take the distress of needle procedures, when interacting with an inventive nurse (Rindstedt 2010). This phenomenon was greatly reduced through professionals’ and parents’ emotion work (Hochschield 1983).

Funding is only applied for two years: (year 1) in order to do transcribe and analyze the data (year 2) to write articles for peer-reviewed journals. Two articles have already been submitted.

Significance for childhood cancer

It has been shown that successful healthcare is contingent upon effective interaction (Pilnick et al 2010). This project will highlight conversational patterns, and the health team may gain new insights about interactional practices within the specific healthcare enterprise. The benefits of the study have to do with how to meet future patients within the health care setting. An increased understanding may improve daily routines and practices.


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    Arniika Kuusisto. Foto: Niklas Björling, Stockholms universitet.

    Passionate Researcher and Professor at BUV

    “Research is my passion”, says Arniika Kuusisto. And she is undeniably both energetic and dedicated when she describes her research, which among other things concerns how children's values ​​are created in the preschool environment, how the curriculum and everyday life interplay with pre-school teachers' actions, the values ​​that children have with them as well as what is important and valuable. Arnikka Kussisto is professor at BUV since 2018.


    Head of Department
    Mats Börjesson

    Child and Youth Studies:
    Rickard Jonsson

    Children´s culture:
    Magnus Öhrn

    Early Childhood Education:
    Anna Palmer

    Director of studies (phd studies)
    Kari Trost

    Administrator (phd studies)
    My Bodell