Predictors of Family Dissatisfaction with Support During Neurocritical Care Shared Decision-Making

By Urs Weber, Qiang Zhang, Derek Ou, James Garritano, Jennifer Johnson, Nathanial Anderson, Andrea K. Knies, Belinda Nhundu, Cynthia Bautista, Kevin B. Huang, Ana-Maria Vranceanu, Jonathan Rosand & David Y. Hwang
First Online: 05 April 2021

There is a critical need to improve support for families making difficult shared decisions about patient care with clinicians in the neuroscience ICU (neuro-ICU). The aim of this study is to identify patient- and family-related factors associated with dissatisfaction with shared decision-making support among families of neuro-critically ill patients.

We conducted a retrospective observational cohort study using survey data that had been collected from a consecutive sample of family members of patients in the neuro-ICU (one family member per patient) at two US academic centers. Satisfaction with shared decision-making support on ICU discharge had been measured among family members using one specific Likert scale item on the Family Satisfaction in the ICU 24 survey, a validated survey instrument for families of patients in the ICU. We dichotomized top-box responses for this particular item as an outcome variable and identified available patient- and family-related covariates associated with dissatisfaction (i.e., less than complete satisfaction) via univariate and multivariate analyses.

Among 355 surveys, 180 (49.5%) of the surveys indicated dissatisfaction with support during decision-making. In a multivariate model, no preexisting characteristics of families or patients ascertainable on ICU admission were predictive of dissatisfaction. However, among family factors determined during the ICU course, experiencing three or fewer formal family meetings (odds ratio 1.93 [confidence interval 1.13–3.31]; p = 0.01) was significantly predictive of dissatisfaction with decisional support in this cohort with an average patient length of stay of 8.6 days (SD 8.4). There was also a trend toward a family’s decision to keep a patient as full code, without treatment limitations, being predictive of dissatisfaction (odds ratio 1.80 [confidence interval 0.93–3.51]; p = 0.08).

Family dissatisfaction with neuro-ICU shared decision-making support is not necessarily predicted by any preexisting family or patient variables but appears to correlate with participating in fewer formal family meetings during ICU admission. Future studies to improve family satisfaction with neurocritical care decision-making support should have broad inclusion criteria for participants and should consider promoting frequency of family meetings as a core strategy.

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