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Indian J Palliat Care. 2012 Jan;18(1):52-8. doi: 10.4103/0973-1075.97474.

Should Patients and Family be Involved in "Do Not Resuscitate" Decisions? Views of Oncology and Palliative Care Doctors and Nurses.

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  • 1Department of Palliative Medicine, National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore.



"Do not resuscitate" (DNR) orders are put in place where cardiopulmonary resuscitation is inappropriate. However, it is unclear who should be involved in discussions and decisions around DNR orders.


The aim was to determine the views of oncology and palliative care doctors and nurses on DNR orders.


A questionnaire survey was conducted on 146 doctors and nurses in oncology and palliative care working within a tertiary specialist cancer center in Singapore.


Perceived care differences as a result of DNR determinations led to 50.7% of respondents reporting concerns that a DNR order would mean that the patient received a substandard level of care. On the matter of DNR discussions, majority thought that patients (78.8%) and the next of kin (78.1%) should be involved though with whom the ultimate decision lay differed. There was also a wide range of views on the most appropriate time to have a DNR discussion.


From the viewpoint of oncology and palliative care healthcare professionals, patients should be involved at least in discussing if not in the determination of DNR orders, challenging the norm of familial determination in the Asian context. The varied responses highlight the complexity of decision making on issues relating to the end of life. Thus, it is important to take into account the innumerable bio-psychosocial, practical, and ethical factors that are involved within such deliberations.


Asian Continental Ancestry Group; Decision making; Medical oncology; Palliative care; Resuscitation orders

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