Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When The Patient Can't Decide: Study Looks At Physician Perspectives On Surrogate Decision-making

Date:
August 19, 2008
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
Researchers led by Alexia Torke, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute Inc., studied how physicians treating patients who are unable to make medical decisions interacted with surrogate decision-makers.

Family members are often called upon to make medical choices for patients who are unable to do so themselves. Researchers led by Alexia Torke, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., studied how physicians treating these patients interacted with surrogate decision-makers.

Related Articles


The qualitative study, based on interviews with physicians who described their own recent interactions with surrogate decision makers, is published in the Summer 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Ethics. Their findings led the researchers to conclude that physicians' ethical framework for making decisions in which a surrogate is involved is much more complex than previously realized. Although ethicists have traditionally encouraged physicians to focus exclusively on the patient, physicians in the study also considered the surrogate's wishes and interests in their decision making.

"The number of times that a physician will deal with a surrogate decision maker is growing as our population ages and conditions such as Alzheimer's disease become more common. The issue of how physicians interact with surrogates is a very important one. We found that physicians often want to take an active role in determining what is right for a patient and often grapple with the needs of the patient versus those of the surrogate," said Dr. Torke, who is an IU School of Medicine assistant professor of medicine and geriatrics and a Regenstrief research scientist. She is also on the faculty of the IU Center for Aging Research and the Fairbanks Center for Clinical Medical Ethics

Some physicians encouraged families to consider the patient's prior wishes and to place them ahead of other considerations. One said, "I always think it's important that it's not a decision that the family member or the surrogate is making for themselves but it is a decision that they are making for someone else, based upon their best knowledge of what that person would want."

Another doctor participating in the study told the researchers, "When I feel strongly that the patient's quality of life is really poor then I do feel that it is appropriate for the physician to try and guide the family member toward a decision."

Another felt that sometimes guidance is not enough and said, "If the patient can't make the decision then I discuss it with the family. I sometimes will push the family to do what I think is best for the patient."

Other physicians were willing to base decisions on what the surrogate wanted for the patient, rather than enquiring about what the patient would have wanted. Physicians were also concerned with the surrogate's well-being, including their emotions, but found the surrogate's needs to be less important than patient-centered concerns. One doctor said, "I think family burden is an issue. I don't think it should govern what the final decision is, but I do think it should be addressed."

The study, which is the first to investigate how doctors apply ethical frameworks for patients unable to make decisions, was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services and by the University of Chicago.

In addition to Dr. Torke, authors of the study are Mary Simmerling, Ph.D.; Mark Siegler, M.D.; Danit Kaya, A.B.; and G. Caleb Alexander, M.D., MS, all of the University of Chicago.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "When The Patient Can't Decide: Study Looks At Physician Perspectives On Surrogate Decision-making." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818101329.htm>.
Indiana University. (2008, August 19). When The Patient Can't Decide: Study Looks At Physician Perspectives On Surrogate Decision-making. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818101329.htm
Indiana University. "When The Patient Can't Decide: Study Looks At Physician Perspectives On Surrogate Decision-making." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080818101329.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins