Family presence during brain death evaluation: a randomized controlled trial

Tawil, Isaac, Brown, Lawrence H., Comfort, David, Crandall, Cameron S., West, Sonlee D., Rollstin, Amber D., Dettmer, Todd S., Malkoff, Marc D., and Marinaro, Jonathan (2014) Family presence during brain death evaluation: a randomized controlled trial. Critical Care Medicine, 42 (4). pp. 934-942.

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Abstract

Objective: To evaluate if a family presence educational intervention during brain death evaluation improves understanding of brain death without affecting psychological distress.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Four ICUs at an academic tertiary care center.

Subjects: Immediate family members of patients suspected to have suffered brain death.

Interventions: Subjects were group randomized to presence or absence at bedside throughout the brain death evaluation with a trained chaperone. All randomized subjects were administered a validated understanding brain death survey before and after the intervention. Subjects were assessed for psychological well-being between 30 and 90 days after the intervention.

Measurements and Main Results: Follow-up assessment of psychological well-being was performed using the Impact of Event Scale and General Health Questionnaire. Brain death understanding, Impact of Event Scale, and General Health Questionnaire scores were analyzed using Wilcoxon nonparametric tests. Analyses were adjusted for within family correlation. Fifty-eight family members of 17 patients undergoing brain death evaluation were enrolled: 38 family members were present for 11 brain death evaluations and 20 family members were absent for six brain death evaluations. Baseline understanding scores were similar between groups (median 3.0 [presence group] vs 2.5 [control], p = 0.482). Scores increased by a median of 2 (interquartile range, 1-2) if present versus 0 (interquartile range, 0-0) if absent (p < 0.001). Sixty-six percent of those in the intervention group achieved perfect postintervention understanding scores, compared with 20% of subjects who were not present (p = 0.02). Median Impact of Event Scale and General Health Questionnaire scores were similar between groups at follow-up (Impact of Event Scale: present = 20.5, absent = 23.5, p = 0.211; General Health Questionnaire: present = 13.5, absent = 13.0, p = 0.250).

Conclusions: Family presence during brain death evaluation improves understanding of brain death with no apparent adverse impact on psychological well-being. Family presence during brain death evaluation is feasible and safe.

Item ID: 33718
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1530-0293
Keywords: brain death evaluation, end-of-life care, family presence, medical education, organ donation, understanding brain death
Funders: University of New Mexico
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2014 09:42
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1109 Neurosciences > 110999 Neurosciences not elsewhere classified @ 40%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110310 Intensive Care @ 40%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920111 Nervous System and Disorders @ 90%
92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920299 Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified @ 10%
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