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Authors

  1. Jager, Shannon BA
  2. Kavanaugh, Karen PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Hoffman, Shelley MPH
  4. Laitano, Tatiana MD
  5. Jeffries, Erin MD, MS
  6. Tucker Edmonds, Brownsyne MD, MPH, MS

Abstract

During periviable deliveries, parents are confronted with overwhelming and challenging decisions. This study aimed to qualitatively explore the language that pregnant women and important others utilize when discussing palliation, or "comfort care," as a treatment option in the context of periviability. We prospectively recruited women admitted for a threatened periviable delivery (22-25 weeks) at 2 hospitals between September 2016 and January 2018. Using a semistructured interview guide, we investigated participants' perceptions of neonatal treatment options, asking items such as "How was the choice of resuscitation presented to you?" and "What were the options presented?" Conventional content analysis was used and matrices were created to facilitate using a within- and across-case approach to identify and describe patterns. Thirty women and 16 important others were recruited in total. Participants' descriptions of treatment options included resuscitating at birth or not resuscitating. Participants further described the option to not resuscitate as "comfort care," "implicit" comfort care, "doing nothing," and "withdrawal of care." This study revealed that many parents facing periviable delivery may lack an understanding of comfort care as a neonatal treatment option, highlighting the need to improve counseling efforts in order to maximize parents' informed decision-making.