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Paediatric Psychology - Psychosocial Interventions

The National Delivery Plan for children and young people’s specialist services in Scotland has highlighted the importance of psychological care as a key component in providing a quality health service. The psychological needs of children, young people and families living with acute and chronic physical health conditions are evident across a range of health settings.


Children and young people who live with either acute or chronic physical health conditions are more vulnerable to mental health or behavioural problems than their peers. That being said, although the risk of emotional or behavioural difficulties is increased in children with physical health conditions, many only require psychological support at specific times.  In particular, quality of life and emotional wellbeing may be compromised when the child, young person and family are adjusting to a new diagnosis, during transition, when coping with complex treatment plans and with a fluctuating course of the condition and its management. Psychological support may also be required for reasons such as; managing pain; when children or young people are having difficultly adhering to their medical treatment; or when the child or young person's physical condition is directly impacting on their mood.


Several studies have established that good quality psychological care delivered at the appropriate level reduces emotional distress, improves coping and enhances the effectiveness of medical care. Helping children, young people and their families learn more about the psychological footprint of their condition and how to cope appropriately empowers them to draw on their own strengths and resources.


It is important therefore that healthcare professionals have the psychological knowledge and skills to anticipate and, where possible, ameliorate the emotional impact of their physical condition.


NES has been tasked with developing educational resources aimed at supporting staff working in Specialist Children's Services. These resources are designed to enhance existing skills and knowledge on psychosocial aspects of care in the health setting.  The educational resource 'Psychosocial Interventions for Improving Adherence, Self-Management and Adjustment to Physical Health Conditions - Children and Young People' is available here.  A programme of regional training based on the resource is delivered annually.


Training is aimed at multidisciplinary paediatric health care staff. All regional training is advertised on the NHS portal, where you can register for courses. Further information about resources and upcoming courses is also available on the Children and Young People's Services MKN (Managed Knowledge Network) Paediatric Psychology page's-services-(paediatric-psychology).aspx



While development of the training resources is vital, a plan for sustainable delivery is key to ensuring consistency and quality over the long term. To this end, training of local trainers has been initiated which will empower local clinicians and services to promote psychological approaches locally, thereby improving outcomes for children, young people and families in the longer term.