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J Pediatr. 2018 May;196:116-122.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.12.050. Epub 2018 Feb 2.

Worth a Try? Describing the Experiences of Families during the Course of Care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit When the Prognosis is Poor.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago, IL; Department of Pediatrics, Evanston Hospital, NorthShore University Healthsystem, Evanston, IL. Electronic address: marnolds@northshore.org.
2
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.
3
Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago, IL.
4
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
5
Department of Pediatrics, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago, IL; University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine how parents of infants in the neonatal intensive care unit with a poor or uncertain prognosis view their experience, and whether they view their choices as "worth it," regardless of outcome.

STUDY DESIGN:

Parents of eligible neonates at 2 institutions underwent audiotaped, semistructured interviews while their infants were still in the hospital and then again 6 months to 1 year after discharge or death. Interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Two authors independently reviewed and coded each interview and discrepancies were resolved by consensus.

RESULTS:

Twenty-six families were interviewed in the initial group and 17 families were interviewed in the follow-up group. The most common themes identified included realism about death (24 families), appreciation for the infant's care team (23 families), and optimism and hope (22 families). Overall themes were very similar across both centers, and among parents of infants who died and those who survived. Themes of regret, futility, distrust of care team, and infant pain were brought up infrequently or not at all.

CONCLUSIONS:

No family believed that the care being provided to their infant was futile; rather, parents were grateful for the care provided to their infant, regardless of outcome. Even in the case of a poor prognosis or the death of an infant, families in our study viewed their infant's stay in the neonatal intensive care unit favorably.

KEYWORDS:

NICU; ethics; gray zone; moral distress; parent experiences; poor prognosis; prematurity

PMID:
29398049
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.12.050
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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