A study of nurses' perceptions of and participation in the resolution of treatment dilemmas for critically ill newborns
This study was an exploratory investigation of variables which are associated with neonatal intensive care nurses' perceptions of and participation in life-sustaining treatment decisions for critically ill newborns. The primary purpose of the research was to examine the extent to which assessment of infants' physical and mental prognoses, parents' preferences regarding treatment, and legal consequences of non-treatment influence nurses' recommendations about life-saving treatment decisions for handicapped newborns. Secondly, the research explored the extent and nature of nurses' reported participation in the resolution of treatment dilemmas for these critically ill newborns. The framework of the study draws upon the work of Crane (1977), Blum (1980), and Pearlman (1982) who have explored the sociological context of decision-making with critical care patients. Participants in the study were a volunteer sample of eighty-three registered nurses who were currently working in neonatal intensive care units in five large urban hospitals in Texas. Data were collected through the use of intensive interviews and case study questionnaires. Results from the study indicate that physical and mental prognoses as well as parent preferences and concerns about legal liability are related to nurses' treatment recommendations, but their levels of significance vary according to the type of handicapping condition and whether the treatment questions are posed in terms of initiating aggressive therapy or withdrawing aggressive therapy. The majority of nurses reported that the extent of their participation in formal decision-making regarding handicapped newborns was fairly minimal although they provide much of the definitive data used to make decisions by physicians and parents. There was substantial evidence that nurse respondents perceive their primary role as advocates for critically ill newborns, and believe that their involvement in the resolution of treatment dilemmas should be increased.
Martin, Darlene Aulds, "A study of nurses' perceptions of and participation in the resolution of treatment dilemmas for critically ill newborns" (1987). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8809922.