Trust in Physicians, Anxiety and Depression, and Decision-Making Preferences among Parents of Children with Serious Illness.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2021 Sep 13

ISSN Number



<p>To assess parental decision-making preferences when caring for a child with serious illness and to evaluate for an association between preferences and parental trust in physicians, and potential modification of this association by parental anxiety or depression. We analyzed cross-sectional data from 200 parents of 158 children in the United States who had life-threatening illnesses and whose attending physicians thought that the parents would have to make major medical decision in the next 12 to 24 months. Parents completed measures of decision-making preferences, trust in physicians, anxiety, and depression. Higher reported levels of trust were associated with lower preferences for autonomous decision making (Spearman correlation = -0.24; 95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.36 to -0.01;  &lt; 0.008). Among parents with higher levels of trust, increasing anxiety scores were associated with decreasing preference for autonomy, whereas among parents with lower levels of trust, increasing anxiety scores showed an increasing preference for autonomy (regression coefficient = -0.01; 95% CI = -0.02 to -0.001;  ≤ 0.03). Decreasing trust in physicians is associated with a higher preference for autonomous decision making. Parents who have higher levels of anxiety exhibit this association more strongly. Decision support for parents of children with serious illness should use strategies to respect parental decision-making preferences, address potential distrust, and provide mental health support to parents who are anxious or depressed.</p>



Alternate Title

J Palliat Med




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