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Doctor's choice of words may influence family's decision to permit CPR in critically ill
Date:5/9/2013

PITTSBURGH, May 9, 2013 A physician's choice of words when talking with family members about whether or not to try cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a critically ill patient's heart stops may influence the decision, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh researchers in the June edition of Critical Care Medicine and now available online.

"It's long been known that the way a choice is framed can influence people's decisions," noted Amber E. Barnato, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., lead author of the study and associate professor of clinical and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Our study shows that the words physicians use may play an important role in determining critical end-of-life decisions."

For this first-of-its-kind study, Dr. Barnato and her team recruited more than 250 adult children or spouses in eight cities: Boston, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh.

The participants took part in a Web-based survey involving a hypothetical situation in which a loved one was in the intensive care unit with a 40 percent chance of dying from sepsis, a dangerous bacterial infection. Some subjects were shown a photo of their loved ones to help them imagine the situation and heighten the emotional response. An actor portrayed a physician who held a virtual, interactive meeting with the family member. The "doctor's" responses varied, using different words for the same scenarios. Additionally, some offered emotional support, and others offered only clinical information.

A key finding was that when participants were asked to choose between having their loved ones receive CPR if their hearts should stop a treatment with a 10 percent chance of successfully reviving them or the alternative, a "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) order, 60 percent chose CPR. When the alternative was described as to "allow natural death" instead of a DNR order, the number cho
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Contact: Rick Pietzak
pietzakr@upmc.edu
412-864-4151
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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