Experiences in end-of-life care in the Intensive Care Unit: A survey of resident physicians

Mohamed, Z.M. et al. Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine.  2016;20:459-64

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Background and Aims: The practice of intensive care includes withholding and withdrawal of care, when appropriate, and the goals of care change around this time to comfort and palliation. We decided to survey the attitudes, training, and skills of intensive care residents in relation to end-of-life (EoL) care. All residents at our institute who has worked for at least a month in an adult Intensive Care Unit were invited to participate.

Materials and Methods: After Institutional Ethics Committee approval, a Likert-scale questionnaire, divided into five composite measures of EoL skills including training and attitude, was handed over to individual residents and completed data were anonymized. Frequency and descriptive analysis was performed for the demographic variables. Central tendency, variability, and reliability were examined for the five composite measures. Scale internal consistency was checked by Cronbach’s coefficient alpha. Multivariate forward conditional regression analysis was conducted to examine the association of demographic data or EoL experience to composite measures.

Results: Of the 170 eligible residents, we received 120 (70.5%) responses.

Conclusions:Internal medicine residents have more experience in caring for dying patients and conducting EoL discussions. Even though majority of participants reported that they are comfortable with the concept of EoL care, this does not always reflect the actual practice in the hospital. There is a need for further training in skills around EoL care. As this is a self-assessment survey, the specific measures of attitudes and skills in EoL are poorly reflected, indicating a need for further research.

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