Exploring young people's dignity: A qualitative approach

13 January 2015

Aim: Human dignity as an important consideration in health care has been primarily investigated from an adult perspective. This paper explores young people's perceptions of dignity and how it impacts on their health-care experience. Method: A qualitative pilot study was undertaken at the Children's Hospital, Westmead in from 2010 to 2011. Semi structured interviews were conducted with five inpatients, and data were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Results: The adolescents interviewed perceived dignity as a way of protecting their personhood. Privacy and maintaining integrity were the means by which dignity could be preserved in a health-care setting. Conclusions: The study found that young people had unique perceptions of privacy and personhood with regards to dignity. Of the concepts of dignity in the existing literature, the dignity of identity was most applicable to adolescents' conceptions. This understanding of young people's views of dignity could prevent dignity violations in health care and beneficially impact their development. Keywords: adolescent; behavioural; ethics