Assessing preferences about the DNR order: does it depend on how you ask?


Assessing preferences about the DNR order: does it depend on how you ask?


Percy ME; Llewellyn-Thomas HA


Medical Decision Making




Female; Humans; Male; Attitude to Health; Treatment Outcome; Choice Behavior; Resuscitation Orders; Quality-Adjusted Life Years; Research Design; Probability; Reproducibility of Results; Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support; Students; Questionnaires/standards; Effect Modifiers (Epidemiology); Nursing/psychology; Resuscitation/adverse effects


Despite increasing emphasis on advance directives, there has been little methodologic work to assess preferences about the "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order. This developmental work assessed, in a non-patient group, the performance of a probability-trade-off task designed to assess DNR attitudes, in terms of framing effects and stability of preferences. 105 female nursing students each completed one of two versions of the task. In version I (n = 58), the trade-off moved to increasingly negative descriptions of the outcomes of resuscitation (decreasing chance of survival and increasing risk of brain death), whereas in version II (n = 47), the trade-off moved to increasingly positive descriptions. One week later, repeat assessments were obtained for versions I (n = 35) and II (n = 28). The DNR preference scores were lower and more stable when the task moved to increasingly positive descriptions; perhaps this version of the task tends to weaken risk aversion. These results imply that care should be used in applying a probability trade-off task to the assessment of DNR preferences, since artefactual effects could be induced.


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Percy ME; Llewellyn-Thomas HA, “Assessing preferences about the DNR order: does it depend on how you ask?,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 24, 2023,