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CPR decision-making conversations in the UK: an integrative review
  1. Charlie C Hall1,
  2. Jean Lugton2,
  3. Juliet Anne Spiller2 and
  4. Emma Carduff3
  1. 1 St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Marie Curie Hospice, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emma Carduff, Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow G21 3US, UK; Emma.Carduff{at}


Objectives Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) discussions with patients and their caregivers have been subjected to intense ethical and legal debate in recent years. Legal cases and national guidelines have tried to clarify the best approach to DNACPR discussions; however, there is little evidence of how best to approach them from the patient, family or caregiver perspective. This paper describes published accounts of patient, family and caregiver experiences of discussions about advance cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) decision making.

Methods An integrative review of the UK literature between 2000 and 2016 including qualitative and quantitative studies was conducted. Worldwide, 773 abstracts were identified, and 20 papers from the UK were included in the final analysis.

Results Patient, family and caregivers prefer discussions to be initiated by someone trusted, and wishes for family involvement vary depending on the context. Timing of discussions should be individualised, though discussions earlier in the illness are often preferable. Discussions held in the acute setting are suboptimal. CPR decisions should be part of a wider discussion about future care and adequate communication skills training is important.

Conclusions The findings of this review are at odds with the current statutory framework and potentially challenging for medical professionals who are working in a stretched health service, with pressure to discuss DNACPR decisions at the earliest opportunity. With increasing focus on person-centred care and realistic medicine, patient narratives must be considered by doctors and policy makers alike, to minimise harm.

  • clinical decisions
  • communication
  • family management
  • integrative review
  • resuscitation

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors CCH, EC, JAS and JL designed the project. CCH, JL and EC reviewed the abstracts and extracted data from the papers. EC and CCH reviewed the papers for quality. EC and CCH drafted the final manuscript. All authors approved the final draft.

  • Funding Funding for the project was received from the Scottish Government. The posts of JAS and EC are supported by Marie Curie.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data.

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