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Empowering young people with long-term illness

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Abbott, S.; Cairns, L.; Davies, H.

In response to recommendations in the National Service Framework for children with long-term conditions, a programme was developed based on the Expert Patient Programme for adults. Children who were heavy users of primary care, hospital care or both were invited to attend one of two programmes: the first for young people aged between 12 and 18; the second for children aged between five and 11. Evaluation feedback was obtained using questionnaires. Findings included benefits to young people of social contact, increased social confidence, improved family communications and relationships, and acquisition of new skills. Preliminary data indicates some reduced use of health services by these children and young people following the programme. Although the findings should be treated with caution, they suggest that the programmes achieved their aim of helping participants to acknowledge their illness and feel more in control of their lives.

Research abstracts