Exploring the vagueness of Religion & Spirituality in complex pediatric decision-making: A qualitative study

Title

Exploring the vagueness of Religion & Spirituality in complex pediatric decision-making: A qualitative study

Creator

Superdock AK;Barfield RC;Brandon DH;Docherty SL

Publisher

BMC Palliative Care

Date

2018

Subject

decision making;intensive care;life sustaining treatment;neonatology;Palliative therapy;qualitative research;religion;treatment withdrawal;article;Child;father;genetic transcription;health care personnel;Human;human tissue;interview;major clinical study;Male;medical record;mother;narrative;prognosis;thematic analysis

Description

Background: Medical advances have led to new challenges in decision-making for parents of seriously ill children. Many parents say religion and spirituality (R&S) influence their decisions, but the mechanism and outcomes of this influence are unknown. Health care providers (HCPs) often feel unprepared to discuss R&S with parents or address conflicts between R&S beliefs and clinical recommendations. Our study sought to illuminate the influence of R&S on parental decision-making and explore how HCPs interact with parents for whom R&S are important. Methods: A longitudinal, qualitative, descriptive design was used to (1) identify R&S factors affecting parental decision-making, (2) observe changes in R&S themes over time, and (3) learn about HCP perspectives on parental R&S. The study sample included 16 cases featuring children with complex life-threatening conditions. The length of study for each case varied, ranging in duration from 8 to 531 days (median = 380, mean = 324, SD = 174). Data from each case included medical records and sets of interviews conducted at least monthly with mothers (n = 16), fathers (n = 12), and HCPs (n = 108). Thematic analysis was performed on 363 narrative interviews to identify R&S themes and content related to decision-making. Results: Parents from 13 cases reported R&S directly influenced decision-making. Most HCPs were unaware of this influence. Fifteen R&S themes appeared in parent and HCP transcripts. Themes most often associated with decision-making were Hope & Faith, God is in Control, Miracles, and Prayer. Despite instability in the child's condition, these themes remained consistently relevant across the trajectory of illness. R&S influenced decisions about treatment initiation, procedures, and life-sustaining therapy, but the variance in effect of R&S on parents' choices ultimately depended upon other medical & non-medical factors. Conclusions: Parents consider R&S fundamental to decision-making, but apply R&S concepts in vague ways, suggesting R&S impact how decisions are made more than what decisions are made. Lack of clarity in parental expressions of R&S does not necessarily indicate insincerity or underestimation of the seriousness of the child's prognosis; R&S can be applied to decision-making in both functional and dysfunctional ways. We present three models of how religious and spiritual vagueness functions in parental decision-making and suggest clinical applications.

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Citation List Month

November 2018 List

Collection

Citation

Superdock AK;Barfield RC;Brandon DH;Docherty SL, “Exploring the vagueness of Religion & Spirituality in complex pediatric decision-making: A qualitative study,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed November 29, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/15604.

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