Withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments for neonate in Japan: Are hospital practices associated with physicians' beliefs, practices, or perceived barriers?

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2019 Dec 03

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<p><strong>OBJECTIVE: </strong>To describe the current status of withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining interventions (LSI) for neonates in Japan and to identify physician- and institutional-related factors that may affect advance care planning (ACP) practices with parents.</p>

<p><strong>STUDY DESIGN: </strong>A self-reported questionnaire was administered to assess frequency of withholding and withdrawing intensive care at the respondent's facility, the physician's degree of affirming various beliefs about end-of-life care that was compared to 7 European countries, their self-reported ACP practices and perceived barriers to ACP. Three neonatologists at all 298 facilities accredited by the Japan Society for Neonatal Health and Development were surveyed, with 572 neonatologists at 217 facilities responding.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>At 76% of facilities, withdrawing intensive care treatments was "never" done, while withholding intensive care had been done "sometimes" or more frequently at 82% of facilities. Japanese neonatologists differed from European neonatologists regarding their degree of affirmation of 3 out of 7 queried beliefs about end-of-life care. In hospitals that were more likely to "sometimes" (or more often) withdraw treatments, respondents were less likely to affirm beliefs about doing "everything possible" or providing the "maximum of intensive care". Self-reported ACP practices did not vary between neonatologists based on their hospital's overall pattern of withholding or withdrawing treatments.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSION: </strong>Among NICU facilities in Japan, 21% had been sometimes withdrawing LSI and 82% had been "sometimes" withholding LSI. Institutional treatment practices may have a strong association with physicians' beliefs that then affect end-of-life discussions, but not with self-reported ACP practices.</p>



Alternate Title

Early Hum. Dev.




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