End-of-life decisions in neonatal care: a conversation analytical study

Marlow, Neil and Shaw, Chloe and Connabeer, Kathrina and Aladangady, Narendra and Gallagher, Katie and Drew, Paul (2020) End-of-life decisions in neonatal care: a conversation analytical study. BMJ Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition. ISSN 1359-2998

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To understand the dynamics of conversations between neonatologists and parents concerning limitation of life-sustaining treatments.

Formal conversations were recorded, transcribed and analysed according to the conventions and methods of conversation analysis.

Two tertiary neonatal intensive care units.

Consultant neonatal specialists and families.

Main outcome measures
We used conversation analysis and developed an inductive coding scheme for conversations based on the introduction of limiting life-sustaining treatments and on parental responses.

From recordings with 51 families, we identified 27 conversations about limiting life support with 20 families and 14 doctors. Neonatologists adopted three broad strategies: (1) ’recommendations’, in which one course of action is presented and explicitly endorsed as the best course of action, (2) a ’single-option choice’ format (conditional: referring to a choice that should be made, but without specifying or listing options), and (3) options (where the doctor explicitly refers to or lists options). Our conversation analysis informed coding scheme was based on the opportunities available for parents to ask questions and assert their preference with minimal interactional constraint or pressure for a certain type of response. Response scores for parents presented with conditional formats (n=15, median 5.0) and options (n=10, median 5.0) were significantly higher than for those parents presented with ’recommendations’ (n=16, median 3.75; p=0.002) and parents were more likely to express preferences (p=0.005).

Encouraging different approaches to conversations about limitation of life-supporting treatment may lead to better parent engagement and less misalignment between the conversational partners.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2020-319544
16 August 2020Accepted
17 September 2020Published
Subjects: CAH01 - medicine and dentistry > CAH01-01 - medicine and dentistry > CAH01-01-01 - medical sciences (non-specific)
CAH02 - subjects allied to medicine > CAH02-04 - nursing and midwifery > CAH02-04-01 - nursing (non-specific)
CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
CAH15 - social sciences > CAH15-01 - sociology, social policy and anthropology > CAH15-01-02 - sociology
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-07 - linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Kathrina Connabeer
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2020 10:30
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:42
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9943

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