Psychology professor Pennie Seibert is in Lisbon, Portugal, presenting research at the 28th annual meeting of The European Society of Paediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care. The title of Seibert’s research project is “A Choice Point Decision Model to Guide Discourse for Optimum Pediatric/Neonatal Intensive Care.” Coauthors include Boise State students Emily Carroll and Colleen Calzacorta and Saint Alphonsus neurosurgeon, Christian G Zimmerman.
Through their research, Seibert’s team found that although parents or legal guardians want to participate in medical decision-making processes, they do not want to be the ultimate decision makers. They consistently express concerns about having a lack of medical expertise; yet they simultaneously report receiving inadequate information. This disconnect is further exacerbated in emotionally laden situations, and when taking individuals’ religious beliefs into consideration.
In the end, the team found that clear, direct communication and exploration of parents’ values, goals and preferences is vital to achieve balanced decisions about the type, continuity or discontinuation of treatment and care. It is necessary for both family and care providers to fully understand the roles of objective and subjective reasoning when discussing the ultimate fate of the child. The team created this model as a guide to encourage both medical professionals and parents/legal guardians to engage in a mutually comprehensive communication system to enhance this decision making process.