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CWRU study finds quality-of-life discussions are important for ICU patients
Date:3/5/2012

A new study from Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing emphasizes the importance of having discussions related to quality of life before becoming critically ill.

Barbara Daly and Sara Douglas led a research team that observed, taped and analyzed discussions from 116 family meetings, which took place in five intensive care units (ICUs) at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and MetroHealth Medical Center. The family meetings were for patients who had long ICU stays greater than five days.

"Patients who have long ICU stays (called "chronically critically ill") are usually unable to be involved in discussions of goals and treatment related to their care," Douglas said. As a result, their family decision makers are left with the responsibility of making these decisions. Without information from the patient regarding what aspects of quality of life are important to them, it becomes difficult and stressful for their family decision makers to make these important decisions.

Critical Care Medicine reported findings from this National Institute of Nursing Research-funded study in the article entitled, "Neglect of quality-of-life considerations in intensive care unit family meetings for long-stay intensive care unit patients." In the study, Douglas and Daly found that patient treatment preferences and the kind of life the patient wants after a long stay in intensive care often are missing in many medical team and family discussions.

"Don't confuse quality-of-life discussions with end-of-life ones," says Sara Douglas, associate professor at the nursing school and the lead author on a paper that examines quality-of-life issues for chronically critically ill patients. "This is about the kind of life a patient looks forward to when they leave the ICU, and whether aggressive medical treatments will give them that kind of life."

The researchers found that most meetings with family
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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