A mixed methods investigation of end-of-life surrogate decisions among older adults

Abstract

Background: A large number of end-of-life decisions are made by a next-of-kin for a patient who has lost their decision-making capacity. This has given rise to investigations into how surrogates make these decisions. The experimental perspective has focused on examining how the decisions we make for others differ from our own, whereas the qualitative perspective has explored surrogate insights into making these decisions. Methods: We conducted a mixed methods study to bring these two perspectives together. This is crucial to comparing decision outcomes to the decision process. We asked older adult partners to make end-of-life decisions for each other. They then took part in a semi-structured interview about their decision process. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: 24 participants took part in the study. Surrogates were more likely to take a life-saving treatment at the risk of a diminished quality of life for their partner than for themselves. This was consistent with their transcripts which showed that they wanted to give their partner a better chance of living. Although there was evidence of surrogate inaccuracy in the decision task, participants overwhelmingly reported their intention to make a decision which aligns with the substituted judgment standard. However, uncertainty about their wishes pushed them to consider other factors. Conclusions: Taking a mixed methods approach allowed us to make novel comparisons between decision outcome and process. We found that the intentions of surrogates broadly align with the expectations of the substituted judgment standard and that previous discussions with their partner helps them to make a decision.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-020-00553-w
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Additional Information: © The Author(s). 2020 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Uncontrolled Keywords: End-of-life,Mixed methods,Self-other differences,Substituted judgment standard,Surrogate decision-making,Medicine(all)
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://bmcpall ... 53-w#rightslink (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-04-02
Accepted Date: 2020-03-23
Authors: Batteux, Eleonore
Ferguson, Eamonn
Tunney, Richard (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4673-757X)

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