Life support decisions involving imperiled infants

J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2000 Sep;14(2):73-86. doi: 10.1097/00005237-200009000-00008.


The birth of a baby can be a joyous event. When an infant requires neonatal intensive care, concern may overshadow joy. This work reports a descriptive, qualitative study that explored parents' perception of their experiences in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) when faced with the dilemma of withholding and/or withdrawing treatment from their infants. Data from open-ended interviews revealed significant themes. Clear, accurate, and timely exchange of information helped parents grasp their situation and feel involved in the decision. When health care providers demonstrated to parents that they cared, it helped promote trust between providers and parents. Trust promoted parents' confidence in information received and ultimately in the decision reached. Thus, parents were focused on relationships with health care providers, not on ethics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal*
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Withholding Treatment*