Understanding Decision Making in the Intensive Care Unit

Understanding Decision Making in the Intensive Care Unit: a National Study

Given how central Substitute Decision Makers (SDMs) are to the process leading to end of life decisions and sometimes, organ donation, it is striking how poorly understood this decision-making process is. A 2017 scoping review on the topic of soliciting SDM consent to organ donation reported on more than 168 studies covering a broad range of topics, including: SDM characteristics and predictors of consent; the process of soliciting consent; and the effect of the decision on subsequent process of care and on family well-being. An unexplored area, however, is factors - including modifiable factors - that influence SDM decision making at the end of life, which organ donation is part of, such as: responses to stress, support from extended families and friends, and personal beliefs about the ongoing medical conditions. This project seeks to fill this clear and important gap. In the ICU, at the end of life, SDMs are under incredible emotional distress, have often not eaten or slept properly for days preceding discussions about end of life and organ donation, and are also in the midst of grieving for their loved one. The time pressure poses challenges for SDMs' decision making. Thus, this study will investigate novel, potentially modifiable reasons for end of life decision so that we may better support this personally challenging and important decision, especially if organ donation decision interferes with the decision process. Primary objective: To investigate beliefs and experiences of SDMs involved in the decision-making process around withdrawal of life sustaining therapies . Secondary objective: To inform efforts to improve support for SDMs with the aim of improving the decision-making process end-of-life decisions, including when organ donation is involved.

No pharmaceutical medication involved
Recruiting patients only

Step 1: Semi-structured Interviews

Cover SDMs' experience around: withdrawal of life sustaining therapies organ donation among those who were approached (including with the medical team and the organ donation organisation) understanding of the situation views on any gaps in the quantity or quality of information and discussion they received concerning their loved one's end-of-life care or donation process Explore factors they perceived to influence their decision to consent to organ donation or not (or that would have influenced more on

Step 2: National Telephone Survey

Explore SDM's beliefs and experiences around end of life and assess which beliefs are associated with the decision taken at the end of life, including decision to donate organs or not (and the strength of this association)

Understanding Decision Making in the Intensive Care Unit: a National Study