Parental Personal Sense of Duty as a Foundation of Pediatric Medical Decision-making.
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<p>We describe a model of parental (or more broadly, surrogate) decision-making that includes 5 aspects of decision-making that other models simplify or omit. First, we describe problem structuring recognizing that parents often face multiple potential problems or decisions with multiple potential solutions, rather than a single problem, and the initial challenge is deciding which of the problems to focus on. Second, we discuss sense-making recognizing that difficult decisions are not made in isolation but are often part of a confusing, labyrinthian situation in which disoriented parents must make a series of decisions over time in hopes of getting closer to 1 or more goals. Third, we describe path dependency recognizing that decisions influence what and how decisions are made later. Fourth, we discuss personal sense of duty recognizing that parents and other surrogate decision-makers have central personal roles, self-identities, and relationships with the patient, culminating in a personal sense of duty, such as what they perceive they should do to be in their own judgment a "good parent," which substantially affects their decision-making. Fifth, we describe self-judgments recognizing that parents experience distress when they judge themselves as falling short of their duties or if they think others are judging them for falling short. Clinical practice, medical ethics, and research regarding decision support can all benefit by acknowledging and addressing these key aspects of medical decision-making.</p>