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End-of-life decision making in critical illness: Perspectives of Asian parents

, Yee Keow Chiong, Nicola Ngiam
Palliative and Supportive Care pp 1-10; doi:10.1017/s1478951521000493

Abstract: Objective To explore parents’ perspectives regarding end-of-life (EOL) decisions, factors and possible barriers that influence the EOL decision making process, and to understand parental preferences for communication about EOL care in an Asian population. Method A prospective questionnaire cohort study conducted in a university-based tertiary care hospital. 30 parents of children who had been admitted to general pediatric wards for acute ailments and/or were being followed up in general pediatric outpatient clinics after inpatient admissions or emergency department visits completed 30 interviewer-administered questionnaires. With the first 10 completed questionnaires, we sought feedback on the design of the four case vignettes and related questions. Responses to specific questions related to each case vignette were rated on a Likert scale. Results The majority of parents were able to comprehend and identify with the issues in the case vignettes, which allowed them to respond appropriately. Parents tended to avoid active withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining treatment. The top three priorities for parents making EOL decisions for their children were: the chance of improvement, the presence of pain or discomfort, and information provided by healthcare staff. Parents reported that they would prefer to know immediately if their child is at risk of dying; they also preferred to get as much information as possible from the healthcare team and thought that meeting with the healthcare team before making EOL decisions was pivotal. Significance of results Parents place highest priorities on their child's likelihood of improvement, perception of their child's pain, and information provided by healthcare professionals in making EOL decisions.
Keywords: End-of-life care / End-of-life decision / Palliative care / Parental perspectives / Pediatric intensive care unit

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