Current Content
Volume 47 - Number 4
July/August 2021


Developing Nursing Knowledge on COVID-19 in Children and Adolescents: An Integrative Review

Janet Green, Julia Petty, Lynette Staff, Patricia Bromley, Fiona Orr, Nicola Brown, Larissa Smart, Karen Walker, and Linda Jones

Aim: To review and discuss recent literature on the specific nature of COVID-19 in children and adolescents compared to the adult population.

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to the health and well-being of all people around the world. A significant proportion of adults require hospitalization, some developing severe life-threatening complications. However, although children can carry and transmit the virus, they typically do not develop severe disease, and the incidence is lower compared to adults.

Design: An integrative literature review, prepared using the PRISMA-ScR reporting checklist.

Methods: Using Arksey and O'Malley’s framework, relevant databases were searched for articles published in English since the pandemic onset in March 2020 through August 2020. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied, and selected articles were thematically analyzed.

Results: Four themes were identified and discussed relating to the potential care implications for children and adolescents: 1) the differing immune system in children, 2) the presentation of COVID-19 in children and adolescents, 3) vascular disease as a response to COVID-19, and 4) global policy changes relevant to COVID-19 in children and adolescents.

Conclusion: The incidence, severity, and presentation of COVID-19 in young children differs to that of adults. Less is known about the disease pattern in adolescence. A new condition named as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) has emerged, about which we are still learning globally. Although perhaps not affected severely, children may still be vulnerable to the secondary consequences of policy changes (e.g., school closures, social distancing).

Relevance to clinical practice: It is vital to address the significant global issues and contribute a pediatric and adolescent nursing perspective to the rapidly emerging body of evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowledge and understanding of the disease impact in children and adolescents are essential to offering optimum support and care to this patient group.