How Surrogates Decide: A Secondary Data Analysis of Decision-Making Principles Used by the Surrogates of Hospitalized Older Adults.

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How Surrogates Decide: A Secondary Data Analysis of Decision-Making Principles Used by the Surrogates of Hospitalized Older Adults.

J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Aug 24;:

Authors: Devnani R, Slaven JE, Bosslet GT, Montz K, Inger L, Burke ES, Torke AM

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Many hospitalized adults do not have the capacity to make their own health care decisions and thus require a surrogate decision-maker. While the ethical standard suggests that decisions should focus on a patient's preferences, our study explores the principles that surrogates consider most important when making decisions for older hospitalized patients.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine how frequently surrogate decision-makers prioritized patient preferences in decision-making and what factors may predict their doing so.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: We performed a secondary data analysis of a study conducted at three local hospitals that surveyed surrogate decision-makers for hospitalized patients 65 years of age and older.
MAIN MEASURES: Surrogates rated the importance of 16 decision-making principles and selected the one that was most important. We divided the surrogates into two groups: those who prioritized patient preferences and those who prioritized patient well-being. We analyzed the two groups for differences in knowledge of patient preferences, presence of advance directives, and psychological outcomes.
KEY RESULTS: A total of 362 surrogates rated an average of six principles as being extremely important in decision-making; 77.8% of surrogates selected a patient well-being principle as the most important, whereas only 21.1% selected a patient preferences principle. Advance directives were more common to the patient preferences group than the patient well-being group (61.3% vs. 44.9%; 95% CI: 1.01-3.18; p = 0.04), whereas having conversations with the patient about their health care preferences was not a significant predictor of surrogate group identity (81.3% vs. 67.4%; 95% CI: 0.39-1.14; p = 0.14). We found no differences between the two groups regarding surrogate anxiety, depression, or decisional conflict.
CONCLUSIONS: While surrogates considered many factors, they focused more often on patient well-being than on patient preferences, in contravention of our current ethical framework. Surrogates more commonly prioritized patient preferences if they had advance directives available to them.

PMID: 28840485 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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