Navigating tensions when life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn: A thematic synthesis of nurses' and physicians' experiences

Hye Ri Choi, Mu hsing Ho, Chia Chin Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: To synthesise nurses' and physicians' experiences with withdrawing life-sustaining treatment in an intensive care unit. Design: The chosen methodology is thematic synthesis. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses and Enhancing Transparency are used in Reporting the Synthesis of Qualitative Research Statement. Methods and Data Sources: A systematic search is conducted in APA PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE, PubMed and Web of Science following the inclusion and exclusion criteria in April 2023. Two reviewers independently screened and extracted the qualitative data. Subsequently, data analysis was conducted using thematic analysis of qualitative research. This study was not registered with any review registry due to the irrelevance of the data to health-related outcomes. Results: From the 16 articles, 267 quotes were extracted and analysed. The findings of the study revealed five analytical themes: (1) tensions between interdependent collaboration and hierarchical roles; (2) tensions between dignified dying or therapeutic perspectives; (3) family members' reflections of patient's wishes; (4) tensions in family members' positions; and (5) double-sidedness of distress. Conclusion: This study contributes to nursing knowledge by providing a more nuanced understanding of this complex phenomenon of withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. The findings of this study have revealed significant variations globally in the practices surrounding the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in intensive care units, emphasising the need for further research to inform clinical practices that cater to diverse contexts. Reporting Method: Enhancing Transparency are used in Reporting the Synthesis of Qualitative Research Statement (ENTREQ statement). Patient or Public Contribution: Since this study reported a potential collision between the patient's dignified dying and the family member's perceptions and interests, the family member's wishes should be carefully distinguished from the patient's quality of end of life in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2337-2356
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • critical care
  • cultural issues
  • death and dying
  • end-of-life care
  • end-of-life decision-making
  • intensive care
  • nursing
  • nursing roles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing

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