Over the next few months we will be carrying out a short project on the disagreements that can arise in the care of critically ill children, as part of our programme of active response activities.

There have been several high-profile cases in the UK recently of healthcare teams and parents fundamentally disagreeing about the care of critically ill children.

Disagreements of this kind have happened before, but these cases have attracted an unprecedented level of attention from professionals, policy makers, families and wider communities, and the media, both in the UK and internationally.

This short project will explore the wider social and medical factors that might be contributing to how such disagreements about the care of critically ill children develop. Focusing mainly on the UK, we will also explore how disagreements are currently being resolved. We are particularly interested in how parents and families are able to voice their views.

The issues raised are challenging for everyone involved, but the focus of this particular project will be the challenges raised for policy makers who have responsibilities to try to help all the parties concerned.The project will result in the publication of a concise ‘bioethics briefing note’ that will summarise these factors and the potential challenges they pose for policy makers.

Calling interested researchers!

We have an opportunity for two or more researchers to work with us over the summer to help us review the research and evidence in two key areas.

Review 1. Social and scientific factors

We would like to explore relevant research, evidence and opinion on how changing social contexts and attitudes, and developments in science and medical practice, could be affecting communication and decision-making in the healthcare context, particularly in relation to the care of children.

Review 2. Processes for resolving disagreements

The aim of this review is to synthesise research, evidence and opinion on how effective and appropriate current UK processes for handling and resolving such disagreements are in today’s world. We hope to highlight areas of good practice across the UK and internationally.

These commissions would suit researchers with a familiarity with the relevant academic literature relating to decision making in the medical care of children. We would like both reviews to be completed by 30 September 2018.