Feasibility of an Intervention Study to Support Families When Their Loved One Has Life-sustaining Therapy Withdrawn

Barbara Scharf, Shijun Zhu, Sarah Tomlin, Jooyoung Cheon, Kim Mooney-Doyle, Judith Gedney Baggs, Debra Weigand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This investigation addressed family member perceptions of preparation for withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment in the intensive care unit. These families are at a high risk for psychosocial and physical sequelae. The quantitative results of this mixed methods study are reported. A control group received usual care and an educational booklet component of the intervention. The experimental group received the above plus exposure to comfort cart items and additional psychological support. Twenty-eight family members enrolled over a 13-month period. Sixty-one percent (10 intervention, 7 control) completed the follow-up. Fourteen family members (82%) recalled the booklet. Some family members reported moderate to severe depression (12.5%), anxiety (12.5%), and stress (12.6%). Satisfaction with care (83.7%-85.2%) and family member well-being (44.1) were within the norm. Short Form-36 physical component score was higher than the norm, and the mental component score was lower than the norm. This study demonstrated feasibility and acceptability of the interventions and follow-up questionnaires when families make the difficult decision to withdraw treatment. Strategies are suggested to strengthen statistical power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • booklet
  • comfort cart
  • end of life
  • family support
  • intensive care unit
  • intervention study
  • withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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