Decision-making at the limit of viability: The Austrian neonatal choice context


Decision-making at the limit of viability: The Austrian neonatal choice context


Stanak M; Hawlik K


BMC Pediatrics




article; human; palliative therapy; controlled study; shared decision making; systematic review; nervous system malformation; newborn; statistics; Austria; Choice context; Communication strategies; Decision-making; ethicist; framing bias; head; high income country; Limit of viability; neonatologist; neonatology; Neonatology; nicu; pregnancy; prematurity; semi structured interview


Background: We aimed to explore the shared decision-making context at the limit of viability (weeks 22-25 of gestation) through analyzing neonatologist's communication strategies with parents and their possible impact on survival and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) outcomes. Method(s): A mixed methods approach was applied where a systematic literature search and in-depth semi-structured interviews with five heads of neonatology departments and one clinical ethicist from the Austrian context were integrated into a literature review. The aim was to identify decision practice models and the choice context specific to Austria. Result(s): Professional biases, parental understanding, and the process of information giving were identified as aspects possibly influencing survival and NDI outcomes. Institutions create self-fulfilling prophecies by recommending intensive/palliative care based upon their institutional statistics, yet those vary considerably among high-income countries. Labelling an extremely preterm (EP) infant by the gestational week was shown to skew the estimates for survival while the process of information giving was shown to be subject to framing effect and other cognitive biases. Conclusion(s): Communication strategies of choice options to parents may have an impact on the way parents decide and hence also on the outcomes of EP infants. Copyright � 2019 The Author(s).


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Citation List Month

August 2019 List



Stanak M; Hawlik K, “Decision-making at the limit of viability: The Austrian neonatal choice context,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 29, 2024,