Research Methods for Child Life Specialists

In today’s evidence-based healthcare culture, child life specialists must demonstrate knowledge and skill not only in clinical care, but also in planning and evaluating the impact of their interventions—yet few resources exist to provide research skills and support for these practitioners. To adequately evaluate, improve, and innovate patient and family outcomes, it is essential that all providers understand the key inquiry pathways of research. Combining clinical examples and skills with candid advice from seasoned child life specialist researchers, this text scaffolds the concept of inquiry into feasible units of action. From identifying a clinical question to assembling a team, designing a project, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting on results, it guides students, professionals, and administrators in actively exploring and improving healthcare outcomes for patients and their families. Case examples from the authors’ own experiences as clinicians and researchers serve to demonstrate how to seamlessly translate clinical skills into those needed for success in research, ensuring that child life specialists remain active contributors to today’s research evidence on the needs of children and families during healthcare encounters.


Sarah Daniels, MS, CCLS, is a Certified Child Life Specialist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and a doctoral candidate in Educational Psychology and Research at the University of Memphis. Her research and quality improvement interests include evaluating the feasibility, efficacy, and role of child life services in the hospital setting, trends in technology use and youth development, psychosocial aspects of adolescent and young adult oncology, and mixed methods research design. She is the author of five journal articles.

Sherwood Burns-Nader, PhD, CCLS, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Alabama. As a Certified Child Life Specialist, her research interests include examining the psychosocial variables affecting children and families in the healthcare setting, the benefits of child life interventions, and the value of play in development and coping in children. She is the editor of Making Ethical Decisions in Child Life Practice Second Edition, and the author of three book chapters and 18 journal articles.

Jessika Boles, PhD, CCLS, is a Child Life Team Lead at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Human Development and Psychology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. As a Certified Child Life Specialist, her research interests include children’s experiences of participation in healthcare research, their developing understandings of abstract concepts such as legacy and loss, and the ways in which children negotiate healthcare contexts to access and respond to illness and treatment-related information. She has authored five book chapters and 31 journal articles.

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ISBN: 1-5275-6495-9

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6495-4

Release Date: 11th March 2021

Pages: 385

Price: £64.99

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