Aims This research aims to understand relatives’ and carers’ experiences of discussions about resuscitation. Findings are needed to inform policy and practice about what works well and how discussions about resuscitation need to improve.
Background Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) discussions have been especially challenging during the pandemic. Hospital visiting restrictions and untimely deaths due to COVID-19 have disrupted usual modes of communication between staff, patients and relatives. There have been reports of blanket DNACPR decisions being applied to older people and complaints about communication are common. This is distressing for patients and families and costly for the NHS.
Methods This qualitative research uses semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of people who discussed resuscitation on behalf of a relative during the COVID-19 pandemic. An interview topic guide was developed in collaboration with patients and public involvement partners. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and analysed using framework analysis.
Results 18 semi-structured interviews have been undertaken to date. Analysis has identified the following themes:
The importance of communication. This includes the timing of communication about DNACPR and examples of good practice and the lack of information about DNACPR for patients and families.
The multiple dimensions of resuscitation and DNACPR, with misunderstanding about what resuscitation involves, how the decision about DNACPR is made, and by whom.
Wide-ranging impacts of the DNACPR decision, feeling overlooked and disregarded by the medical team, guilt at not contesting a DNACPR decision, and consequent mistrust of the healthcare system.
We aim to complete over 30 interviews by March 2022. Recruitment will continue until inductive thematic saturation.
Conclusion Urgent action is needed to improve communication and ensure appropriate DNACPR discussions. Current practice results in frequent misunderstandings and lasting negative effects which may have detrimental consequences for bereavement reactions and future relationships with healthcare professionals.
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