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Attitudes and Practices of Critical Care Physicians in End-of-life Decisions in Korean Intensive Care Units

Kim, Soyoon 1 Kang Hyun Hee 1 KOH YS ORD ID 2 SHIN OK KOH 1

1연세대학교
2울산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Purpose: This study was performed to evaluate both the attitudes and practices of critical care physicians in Korean ICUs regarding end-of-life care decisions as well as the factors that influence those attitudes and practices. Methods: A questionnaire was developed and delivered to 100 members of the Korean Society of Critical Care Medicine in September 2007. The questionnaire was divided into six parts including personal information, decision-making processes, the withdrawing and withholding of life-sustaining treatment, informed consent, consultation with ethics committees, and guidelines. Results: Eighty eight responses from 53 different institutions were received. The results of the questionnaire include the following. There was a significant difference between the attitude and practices of respondents concerning family consent and patient’s consent. Attitudes toward patient and family consent differed significantly according to the clinical experiences of the respondents (p<.05). There was a significant difference between the attitudes and practices of respondents concerning how often caregivers effectively communicated with patients and family members. Attitudes toward family participation in decision-making processes differed significantly according to the respondents’ gender. There was also a significance difference between the attitudes and practices of respondents regarding the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Attitudes and practices on this issue varied according to the type of ICU where the respondents worked and their medical specialty. Practices concerning informed consent for “do not resuscitate” orders varied significantly according to respondent’s age and type of ICU. Finally, attitudes on the participation of ethics committees in decision-making processes varied significantly according to respondent’s clinical experiences (p<.05). Conclusions: This study found significant differences in the attitudes and practices of critical care physicians in Korean ICUs concerning end-of-life care decisions and the withdrawing and withholding of life-sustaining treatment. The study also found that the factors influencing these attitudes and practices include age, specialty, clinical experiences, and the types of ICU in which physicians work. However, there are some limitations in generalizing these findings.

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