Parents' reactions to participating in interviews about end-of-life decision making

Kelly Nicole Michelson*, Tracy K. Koogler, Kathleen Skipton, Christine Sullivan, Joel Frader

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Although in-depth interviewing is well suited to studying the sensitive topic of end-of-life decision making, no reports have been published assessing the effects on parents of participating in interviews regarding end-of-life decision making for critically ill children. Objective: To examine the reactions of pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) patients' parents to interviews on end-of-life decision making for their child. Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews on end-of-life decision making with PICU patients' parents from two tertiary care PICUs. We approached 117 parents of 102 patients. Seventy-four parents (63%) of 69 patients participated. Results: Forty-three parents (61%) described the interview as "a good experience," 20 (29%) as "a neutral experience," and 1 (1%) as "a bad experience." The parent who judged the interview negatively stated that, "It bothers me a little bit because my son is [out] there having difficulties and I'm in here and not out there." Fifty-four of 59 parents (92%) said they would participate in another similar interview. Most parents (92%) felt the medical community should continue research on end-of-life decision making. Themes identified from the responses included: emotional reaction to the interviews; exposure to end-of-life decision-making issues; impact on parents' views; and impact on future end-of-life decision making. Parents' comments suggested that many perceived the interviews as beneficial. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the willingness of many parents of critically ill children to participate in study interviews regarding end-of-life decision making, a topic that most parents felt was important and warranted more research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1338
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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