Aim of the study: To compare the preferences of patients who survived resuscitation with those admitted as emergency cases about whether family members should be present during resuscitation.
Methods: We used a case control design and recruited, from four large hospitals, 21 survivors of resuscitation and 40 patients admitted as emergency cases without the experience of resuscitation (control group) who were matched by age and gender at a ratio of 1:2. Data collection involved face-to-face interviews using a standardised 22 item questionnaire. Data analysis sought to identify differences between the two groups.
Results: Both groups were broadly supportive of the practice, however resuscitated patients were more likely to favour witnessing the resuscitation of a family member (72% versus 58%), preferred to have a relative present in the event they required resuscitation (67% versus 50%) and believed that relatives benefited from such an experience (67% versus 48%). Additionally, both groups indicated that staff should seek patient preferences about family witnessed resuscitation following hospital admission, and stated that they were unconcerned about confidential matters being discussed with family members present during resuscitation (91% and 75%, respectively). However none of these differences between the two groups achieved statistical significance.
Conclusion: Hospitalised patients report a favourable disposition towards family witnessed resuscitation, and this view appears to be strengthened by successfully surviving a resuscitation episode. Practitioners should strive to facilitate family witnessed resuscitation by establishing, documenting and enacting patient preferences. Research exploring the perceptions of the wider public would help further inform this debate.