Objectives: To estimate the probability of a substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing an affirmative patient response to the phrase "Do you want everything done?"
Design: Discrete choice experiment.
Setting: Single community hospital in Ontario.
Subjects: Nonrandom sampling of healthcare providers and the public.
Intervention: Online survey.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,621 subjects who entered the survey, 692 consented and 432 completed the survey. Females comprised 73% of subjects. Over 95% of subjects were under 65 years old, and 50% had some intensive care-related exposure. Healthcare providers comprised 29% of the subjects. The relative importance of attributes for determining the probability of withdraw life-sustaining therapy by substitute decision makers was as follows: stated patient preferences equals to 23.4%; patient age equals to 20.6%; physical function prognosis equals to 15.2%; length of ICU stay equals to 14.4%; survival prognosis equals to 13.8%; and prognosis for communication equals to 12.6%. Using attribute level utilities, the probability of an substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing a patient answer in the affirmative "Do you want everything done?" compared with "I would not want to live if I could not take care of myself" was 18.8% (95% CI, 17.2-20.4%) versus 59.8% (95% CI, 57.6-62.0%) after controlling for all the other five attribute levels in the scenario: age greater than 80 years; survival prognosis less than 1%; length of ICU stay greater than 6 months; communication equals to unresponsive; and physical equals to bed bound.
Conclusions: Using a discrete choice experiment survey, we estimated the impact of a commonly employed and poorly understood phrase physicians may use when discussing advance care plans with patients and their substitute decision makers on the subsequent withdraw life-sustaining therapies. This phrase is predicted to dramatically reduce the likelihood of withdraw life-sustaining therapy even in medically nonbeneficial scenarios and potentially contribute to low-value end-of-life care and outcomes. The immediate cessation of this term should be reinforced in medical training for all healthcare providers who participate in advance care planning.
INTRODUCTION: Across the developed world, there are concerns about 'inappropriate' use of the emergency department (ED). Patients with palliative care needs frequently attend the ED. Previous studies define the 'reason' for presentation as the 'presenting symptom', which ignores the perspectives of service users. This paper addresses an acknowledged gap in the literature, which fails to examine the decision-making process that brings patients to the ED.
METHODS: In-depth narrative interviews were conducted with 7 patients (known to a specialist palliative care service and presenting to the ED during a 10-week period) and 2 informal caregivers. Analysis drew on 'Burden of Treatment Theory' to examine the meaning attributed by participants to their experience of serious acute illness, their capacity for action and the work required to access emergency care.
RESULTS: 5 themes were identified about how and why emergency services were accessed: capacity for action, making sense of local services, making decisions to access emergency services, experience of emergency care and coping with change. All narratives captured concerns surrounding the complexity of services. Participants struggled to piece together the jigsaw of services, and were subsequently more likely to attend the ED. Differences between the ways that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer accessed the ED were prominent.
CONCLUSIONS: Further work is needed to understand and respond to decisions leading patients with palliative care needs to the ED, particularly in the context of locally fragmented services, poor signposting and confusion about available healthcare. The perspectives of service users are essential in shaping emergency care.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether parent-initiated or doctor-initiated decisions about limiting life-sustaining treatment (LST) in neonatal care has consequences for how possible courses of action are presented.
METHOD: Formal conversations (n = 27) between doctors and parents of critically ill babies from two level 3 neonatal intensive care units were audio or video recorded. Sequences of talk where decisions about limiting LST were presented were analysed using Conversation Analysis and coded using a Conversation Analytic informed coding framework. Relationships between codes were analysed using Fisher's exact test.
RESULTS: When parents initiated the decision point, doctors subsequently tended to refer to or list available options. When doctors initiated, they tended to use 'recommendations' or 'single-option' choice (conditional) formats (p=0.017) that did not include multiple treatment options. Parent initiations overwhelmingly concerned withdrawal, as opposed to withholding of LST (p=0.030).
CONCLUSION: Aligning parents to the trajectory of the news about their baby's poor condition may influence how the doctor subsequently presents the decision to limit LST, and thereby the extent to which parents are invited to participate in shared decision-making.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Explicitly proposing treatment options may provide parents with opportunities to be involved in decisions for their critically ill babies, thereby fostering shared decision-making.
CONTEXT: Few studies have examined how clinicians assess decision-making capacity for research in the last weeks of life.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the decision-making capacity for participation in a research study and its association with clinician impression and delirium among cancer patients with days to weeks of life expectancy.
METHODS: Patients admitted to our Palliative and Supportive Care Unit (PSCU) were approached for a prospective observational study. We assessed for their decision-making capacity based on clinical impression of physician and nurse, Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) and the MacArthur Competency Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR).
RESULTS: Among the 206 patients, 131 patients (64%) did not require MacCAT-CR assessment because they were overtly delirious or unresponsive; 37 (18%) patients were alert but did not complete the MacCAT-CR assessment for other reasons and 38 patients (18%) completed the MacCAT-CR assessment. Among these 38 patients, 5 (13%) were incapable and had normal albeit significantly higher MDAS scores compared to those who were capable (1.8 vs. 4.2, P=0.002). Compared against MacCAT-CR and MDAS, the overall agreement with capacity assessment with a clinician was 88% (95% CI 82-93%) for physicians and 90% (95% CI 82-94%) for nurses. The area-under the receiver-operating characteristics curve was 0.93 (95% CI 0.88-0.96) for physicians and 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.97) for nurses, suggesting high discrimination.
CONCLUSION: A majority of patients in the PSCU lacked decision-making capacity for participation in clinical research. Clinician impression had high accuracy. Few patients with normal MDAS were found to be incapable with MacCAT-CR assessment.
The law has a clear role to play in supporting patients and their substitute decision-makers (SDMs) to be involved in end-of-life (EOL) decision-making. Although existing literature suggests that knowledge of EOL law is variable among health professionals, there is little information about the extent and sources of such knowledge within the general community. A telephone survey of a representative sample of adults in three Australian States used six case scenarios to examine the extent to which adults know their legal duties, rights and powers as patients or SDMs; the sources from which people derive relevant legal knowledge; experiences of EOL decision-making; and individual characteristics associated with levels of knowledge. The results show considerable variation in levels of legal knowledge dependent primarily of the area of decision-making presented, some sizeable gaps in people's knowledge of EOL law, and varied awareness of how to access appropriate information on this subject. This study points to the need to increase community legal literacy around EOL decision-making, enhance awareness of the role of law in these circumstances and promote the availability of reliable and accessible information on the law at the time when it is needed.
BACKGROUND: In pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), the end-of-life (EOL) phase and the loss of the child is often characterized by a sudden deterioration of the child following a period of intensive curative treatment. This demands a fast transition for parents. Therefore, an understanding of the parents' perspective on decision-making in such a complex situation is needed. This study aims to gain insight in parental experiences in EOL decision-making in allogeneic pediatric HSCT.
METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study was performed among parents of eight families. Data were thematically analyzed.
RESULTS: All parents were aware of their child's deterioration. Six families were confronted with a rapid deterioration, while two families experienced a gradual realization that their child would not survive. Parental EOL decision-making in pediatric HSCT shows a reflective perspective on the meaning of parenthood in EOL decision-making. Two central themes were identified: "survival-oriented decision-making" and "struggling with doubts in hindsight." Six subthemes within the first theme described the parents' goal of doing everything to achieve survival.
DISCUSSION: Parents experienced EOL decision-making mainly as a process guided by health care professionals (HCPs) based on the child's condition and treatment possibilities. The decision-making is characterized by following opportunities and focusing on hope for cure. In hindsight parents experienced doubts about treatment steps and their child's suffering. HCPs can strengthen the parental role by an early integration of palliative care, providing timely support to parents in the process of imminent loss. Advance care planning can be used to support communication processes, defining preferences for future care.
AIM: Parents' role as end-of-life decision-makers for their child has become largely accepted Western health-care practice. How parents subsequently view and live with the end-of-life decision (ELD) they made has not been extensively examined. To help extend understanding of this phenomenon and contribute to care, as a part of a study on end-of-life decision-making, bereaved parents were asked about the aftermath of their decision-making.
METHODS: A qualitative methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents who had discussed ELDs for their child who had a life-limiting condition and had died. Data were thematically analysed.
RESULTS: Twenty-five bereaved parents participated. Results indicate that parents hold multi-faceted views about their decision-making experiences. An ELD was viewed as weighty in nature, with decisions judged against the circumstances that the child and parents found themselves in. Despite the weightiness, parents reflected positively on their decisions, regarding themselves as making the right decision. Consequently, parents' comments demonstrated being able to live with their decision. When expressed, regret related to needing an ELD, rather than the actual decision. The few parents who did not perceive themselves as their child's decision-maker subsequently articulated negative reactions. Enduring concerns held by some parents mostly related to non-decisional matters, such as the child's suffering or not knowing the cause of death.
CONCLUSION: Results suggest that parents can live well with the ELDs they made for their child. End-of-life decision-making knowledge is confirmed and extended, and clinical support for parents informed.
BACKGROUND: Decision-making in palliative care can be complex due to the uncertain prognosis and general fear surrounding decisions. Decision-making in palliative care may be influenced by spiritual and cultural beliefs or values. Determinants of the decision-making process are not completely understood, and spirituality is essential for coping with illness. Thus, this study aims to explore the influence of spirituality on the perception of healthcare decision-making in palliative care outpatients.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was developed. A battery of tests was administered to 95 palliative outpatients, namely: sociodemographic questionnaire (SQ), Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being scale (FACIT-Sp), and a semi-structured interview (SSI) to study one's perception of spirituality and autonomy in decision-making. Statistical analyses involved descriptive statistics for SQ and SSI. The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare scale scores between groups and correlations were used for all scales and subscales. The analysis of patients' definitions of spirituality was based on the interpretative phenomenological process.
RESULTS: Spiritual wellbeing significantly correlated with greater levels of physical, emotional and functional wellbeing and a better quality of life. Greater spiritual wellbeing was associated with less decisional conflict, decreased uncertainty, a feeling of being more informed and supported and greater satisfaction with one's decision. Most patients successfully implemented their decision and identified themselves as capable of early decision-making. Patients who were able to implement their decision presented lower decisional conflict and higher levels of spiritual wellbeing and quality of life. Within the 16 themes identified, spirituality was mostly described through family. Patients who had received spiritual care displayed better scores of spiritual wellbeing, quality of life and exhibited less decisional conflict. Patients considered spirituality during illness important and believed that the need to receive spiritual support and specialised care could enable decision-making when taking into consideration ones' values and beliefs.
CONCLUSION: The impact of spiritual wellbeing on decision-making is evident. Spirituality is a key component of overall wellbeing and it assumes multidimensional and unique functions. Individualised care that promotes engagement in decision-making and considers patients' spiritual needs is essential for promoting patient empowerment, autonomy and dignity.
Objective: To assess levels of knowledge about patients’ rights, surrogate decision-makers, and advance directives among healthcare professionals at three hospitals in France.
Methods: A multicenter, cross-sectional study in three geriatric hospitals in the Paris area (France) in 2015. The participants’ level of knowledge was assessed via an 18-item self-questionnaire on surrogate decision-makers, advance directives, and end-of-life decision-making. The characteristics associated with a good level of knowledge were assessed using logistic regression.
Results: Among the 301 healthcare professionals (median ± standard deviation age: 40.4 ± 10.2 years; women: 73.4 %), only 15.0 % (95 % confidence interval (CI): [19.7–29.5]) correctly answered at least 75 % of the questions on patients’ rights. Respectively 24.6 % [19.7–29.5], 36.5 % [31.1–42.0] and 37.5 % [32.0–43.0] had sufficient knowledge regarding “surrogate decision-maker”, “advance directives”, and “decision-making at the end of life”. In a multivariable analysis, the only factor significantly associated with a good level of knowledge about end-of-life policy was employment in a university hospital, with a non-significant trend for status as a physician.
Conclusions: Our survey of staff working in geriatric care units highlighted the poor overall level of knowledge about healthcare surrogates and advance directives; the results suggest that additional training in these concepts is required.
Practice implications: Continuing education of healthcare professionals on advance directives and surrogate decision-maker should be promoted to ensure rights of elderly patients at the end of life.
Surrogate health care decision making is often a challenge for everyone involved. In the case of incapacitated patients, family members, nurses, health care providers, and other members of the health care team often grapple with determining the most appropriate clinical course of action. For these difficult patient scenarios, the expertise of clinical ethics consultants is sought to assist with complex health care decision making. Clinical ethics consultation is designed to provide a more objective “outside” opinion and offer advice to the patient, family, and entire care team to support and guide decisions. Nurses are well positioned to initiate assistance from Clinical Ethics Consult Services in support of patient and family advocacy. This article presents a case analysis based on the Stakeholder, Facts, Norms, and Options Framework to analyze the best interest course of action for Mr K., a patient diagnosed with abdominal pain due to end-stage liver cirrhosis and who lacks decisional capacity in regard to his own treatment decision making. The case analysis highlights specific examples of how nurses can provide information, facilitate discussion, and otherwise support patients and families to achieve best interest outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Facilitating patient conversion to hospice at end of life is a prominent clinical concern. Enrollment in outpatient palliative care services is often assumed to encourage seamless transition to hospice care, but this has not been demonstrated. Moreover, decisions to convert from palliative care to hospice are generally treated as dichotomous, thus hampering our ability to understand decision processes.
OBJECTIVE: To examine medical decision-making among patients who are prospectively evaluating whether to convert from palliative care to hospice.
DESIGN: Qualitative case study, using in-depth interviews and constant comparative method.
SETTING/PATIENTS: Terminally ill patients currently enrolled in outpatient palliative care services (N = 26) and their caregivers (N = 16), selected purposely for maximum variation in condition and personal background.
MEASUREMENTS: Themes identified in qualitative in-depth interviews.
RESULTS: Patients rarely refused hospice outright but more often postponed using a "soft no," in which they neither accepted nor overtly refused hospice. Justifications patients and caregivers offered for why hospice was not needed (yet) appeared in these themes: (1) not seeing the value added of hospice, (2) assuming the timing is premature, and (3) relying on extensive health-related support networks that justify or endorse continuation of active care.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite assumptions to the contrary, benefits associated with utilization of outpatient palliative care services have the potential to incentivize the delay of hospice in some cases. Clinical interactions with outpatient palliative care patients should consider the influence of these broad social support systems when discussing hospice options.
BACKGROUND: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is generally incurable, but patients can survive longer than those with other cancer types. Treatment strategies for MBC are complex, and it is difficult to establish evidence of efficacy since symptoms and patient backgrounds vary markedly. Some patients struggle to decide where to receive end-of-life care, despite palliative care intervention, and some die in unexpected places. With the aim of ascertaining the best way to intervene on behalf of patients with end-stage breast cancer, we retrospectively examined interventions provided by our palliative care team. We investigated factors influencing the decision-making processes of patients with MBC regarding end-of-life care locations and where patients actually died.
METHODS: Clinical records of 44 patients with MBC, all Japanese women, who received palliative care interventions at our hospital, were retrospectively investigated. We examined factors, such as age, possibly impacting decision-making processes regarding the final location and actual place of death.
RESULTS: Thirty-five (80%) patients were able to decide where to receive end-of-life care, while the others were not. For these 35 patients, desired locations were the palliative care unit (77%), home palliative care (14%), and the hospital (9%). Age and recurrence-free survival (RFS) were factors influencing patients' decision-making processes (P = .030 and .044, respectively). Of the 35 patients, 25 (71%) were able to receive end-of-life care at their desired locations.
CONCLUSIONS: Young patients and those with short RFS struggled with making decisions regarding where to receive end-of-life care. Such patients might benefit from prompt introduction of advanced care planning.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Despite increased demand for cancer patient's to make their own decisions based on an adequate understanding of what is involved in chemotherapy, the primary signing agent and the reasons for surrogate signing have not been appropriately evaluated.
METHODS: The ethics committee of the palliative medicine subgroup of the Korean Cancer Study Group designed this study and solid cancer patients to whom chemotherapy was offered, from seven institutions, were evaluated. The details relating to surrogate's signing of chemotherapy consent were evaluated. Then, we analyzed the factors associated with surrogate's signing according to patient's demographics and characteristics related to chemotherapy consent.
RESULTS: Surrogate's signing was noted for 20.7% (84/405) of patient and over half of surrogate signings were performed by the patients' son or daughter (60.7%). Two main reasons for surrogate signing were patient's incapacity (34.5%) and taking over authorization from patients (33.3%). The factors associated with more frequent surrogate's signing were absence of spouse, lower education level, outpatient, and when residents played a role as a principle provider of chemotherapy consent.
CONCLUSION: This study suggests the lack of patients' own decision making for chemotherapy in some situations. This ethical dilemma must be considered for adequately informed decision making for chemotherapy while ensuring the patients' autonomy is maintained.
OBJECTIVE: Irish legislation on Advance Healthcare Directives (Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act 2015, ADMC) proposes to change the basis of decision making from acting in the patient's best interests to following the expressed will and intentions of the patient. Refusal of life-saving care can occur, without sound reasons. The implications for care in life-threatening emergencies have not been explored among clinicians.
DESIGN: An anonymous questionnaire survey of Advanced Paramedics (AP) covering awareness of the legislation, attitudes to and experience of refusal of care and potential actions in emergency scenarios now and if the legislation were in force. The scenarios covered end-of-life and deliberate self-harm situations potentially requiring resuscitation.
SETTING: All 482 graduates of the Advanced Paramedic Training Programme were invited to take part.
RESULTS: Overall, 85/389 (21.9%) valid contacts responded, with demographic characteristics similar to the overall population. Attitudes ranged from highly positive to highly negative in relation to the potential impact of the legislation on professional and operational responsibilities. Respondents described marked changes in whether they would offer resuscitation if the ADMC were in place.
CONCLUSION: Irish legislation which changes the traditional basis of medical practice away from the best interests of the patient may affect the resuscitation practices of Advanced Paramedics in life-threatening situations. It has significant implications for medical education, professional practice and clinician-patient interactions. This legislation and similar planned legislation may have implications for other EU jurisdictions.
More research to examine factors contributing to health-care disparities at the end of life is greatly needed. This article outlines a failed attempt to quantify some of the motivators in medical decision-making for African American families faced with a decision to pursue or forego a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy in a loved one at the end of life. It explores the complexities of spirituality, history, culture, and death in our patient population in Charleston, South Carolina, where health-care disparities are well-documented, and distrust has deep historical roots. It outlines the need for qualitative research, where the defining role of the researcher is to practice the paramount palliative skill of listening.
BACKGROUND: Hospice is underutilized, due to both lack of initiation from patients and late referral from clinicians. Prior research has suggested the reasons for underuse are multifactorial, including clinician and patient lack of understanding, misperceptions about the nature of hospice care, and poor communication during end-of-life discussions about hospice care. Little is known about the decisional needs of patients and families engaging in hospice decision-making.
OBJECTIVES: To understand the decisional needs of patients and families making decisions about hospice care.
METHODS: We conducted focus groups with family caregivers and hospice providers and one-on-one interviews with patients considering or enrolled in hospice care. We identified participants through purposeful and snowball sampling methods. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a grounded theory approach.
RESULTS: Four patients, 32 family caregivers, and 27 hospice providers participated in the study. Four main themes around decisional needs emerged from the interviews and focus groups: (1) What is hospice care?; (2) Why might hospice care be helpful?; (3) Where is hospice care provided?; and (4) How is hospice care paid for?
DISCUSSION: Hospice may not be the right treatment choice for all with terminal illness. Our study highlights where patients' and families' understanding could be enhanced to assure that they have the opportunity to benefit from hospice, if they so desire.
Depuis la loi Claeys-Leonetti, les patients peuvent demander aux équipes médicales de pratiquer la sédation profonde et continue maintenue jusqu'au décès dans un cadre spécifique. Pour pouvoir la mettre en place, des staffs ont lieu où la délibération est un temps d'échange qui doit permettre de trouver un consensus afin d'avoir une décision finale validée et reconnue par tous. La délibération qui aboutit à une prise de décision consensuelle n'a pas toujours lieu ou ne répond pas toujours aux demandes des soignants. Notre questionnement et nos recherches ont mené notre réflexion sur "Pourquoi la décision en équipe interdisciplinaire amène des incompréhensions dans l'équipe ?". Pour essayer de répondre à cette question, nous avons cherché les liens entre "délibération" et "décision consensuelle" d'une part et d'autre part les liens entre la "décision consensuelle" et le "premier vécu des soignants quant à la S.P.C.".
Background: Advance care planning (ACP) is a process that enables individuals to describe, in advance, the kind of health care they would want in the future, and has been shown to reduce hospital-based interventions at the end of life. Our goal was to describe the current state of ACP in a home-based primary care program for frail homebound older people in Vancouver, Canada. We did this by identifying four key elements that should be essential to ACP in this program: frailty stage, documentation of substitute decision-makers, and decision-making with regard to both resuscitation (i.e., do not resuscitate (DNR)) and hospitalization (i.e., do not hospitalize (DNH)). While these elements are an important part of the ACP process, they are often excluded from common practice.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional, observational study of data abstracted from 200 randomly selected patient electronic medical records between July 1 and September 30, 2017. We describe the association between demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and four key elements of ACP documentation and decision-making as documented in the clinical record using bivariate comparison, a logistic regression model and multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results: In 73% (n=146) of the patient records, there was no explicit documentation of frailty stage. Sixty-four per cent had documentation of a substitute decision-maker. Of those who had their preferences documented, 90.6% (n=144/159) indicated a preference for DNR, and 23.6% (n=29/123) indicated a preference for DNH. In multiple regression modeling, a diagnosis of dementia and older age were associated with documentation of a DNR preference, adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 4.79 (95% CI 1.37, 16.71) and AOR = 1.14 (95% CI 1.05, 1.24), respectively. Older age, male sex, and English identified as the main language spoken were associated with a DNH preference. AOR = 1.17 (95% CI 1.06, 1.28), AOR = 4.19 (95% CI 1.41, 12.42), and AOR = 3.42 (95% CI 1.14, 10.20), respectively.
Conclusions: Clinician documentation of some elements of ACP, such as identification of a substitute decision-maker and resuscitation status, have been widely adopted, while other elements that should be considered essential components of ACP, such as frailty staging and preferences around hospitalization, are infrequent and provide an opportunity for practice improvement initiatives. The significant association between language and ACP decisions suggests an important role for supporting cross-cultural fluency in the ACP process.
Purpose: This study evaluated the decision-making capacity of persons with mild and moderate dementia on end-of-life care when using visual aids. A secondary purpose was to learn whether the judges naive to the experimental conditions would rate participants' decisional abilities as better when augmented by visual aids, thereby validating the behavioral changes due to the use of these external support.
Method: Twenty older adults with mild and moderate dementia demonstrated Understanding, Expressing a Choice, Reasoning, and Appreciation of 2 medical vignettes under 2 counterbalanced conditions: verbal alone or verbal with visual aids. Transcripts were analyzed and scored to measure decisional skills. Twelve judges rated participants' decisional abilities using a 7-point Likert scale.
Results: Participants demonstrated significantly better overall decisional capacity in Understanding, Reasoning, and Appreciation when supported by visual aids during the decision-making process. No significant differences between conditions were found in Expressing a Choice, the decisional skill Logical Sequence under Reasoning, and Acknowledgment under Appreciation. Overall, the judges' ratings validated these outcomes; the judges' ratings reflected greater agreement in the visual condition than in the verbal condition.
Conclusions: Findings indicated that visual aids (a) improved the decision-making capacity of individuals with dementia in comprehending medical information, employing supportive reasons, and relating this information to his or her own situation and (b) contain the potential for judges who majored or are majoring in speech-language pathology to reach a stronger consensus when determining the decision-making capacity of individuals with dementia.
OBJECTIVE: Surrogate decision-makers play an increasingly important role in the lives of older adults who have lost their ability to make decisions. Currently, there is a lack of evidence to support family surrogates in making a variety of decisions. Additionally, a greater understanding of family caregivers' experiences and perspectives toward making surrogate decisions is needed.
METHODS: This study employed a qualitative systematic review and thematic synthesis of the research evidence using the methodologies of the Joanna Briggs Institute (2014) and Thomas and Harden (2008).
RESULTS: Decisions were classified per three main types: intensive care treatment, end-of-life treatment, and placement. Six themes were identified concerning surrogates' experiences: struggle and reluctance, seeking reassurance, communication with healthcare professionals, family support, older adults' wishes, and negative impact.
CONCLUSION: Family surrogates often lack adequate preparation and education regarding decision-making. Quality communication between surrogates and healthcare providers helps reduce the anxiety and guilt experienced when making surrogate decisions. Further research is required to elucidate these experiences with more cultural and racial nuances.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: This review informs healthcare providers' awareness of the challenges faced by surrogates and fosters improved surrogate decision-making experiences.