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On the Likelihood of Surrogates Conforming to the Substituted Judgment Standard When Making End-of-Life Decisions for Their Partner

Batteux, E; Ferguson, E; Tunney, RJ; (2019) On the Likelihood of Surrogates Conforming to the Substituted Judgment Standard When Making End-of-Life Decisions for Their Partner. Medical Decision Making 10.1177/0272989X19862800. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

A considerable proportion of end-of-life decisions are made by the patient’s next-of-kin, who can be asked to follow the substituted judgment standard and decide based on the patient’s wishes. The question of whether these surrogate decision makers are actually able to do so has become an important issue. In this study, we examined how the likelihood of surrogates conforming to the substituted judgment standard varies with individual differences in mortality acceptance and confidence in their decision making. We recruited 153 participants in romantic relationships between 18 and 80 years old from the general population. We asked them to make hypothetical end-of-life decisions for themselves and on behalf of their partner, as well as predict what their partner would do, and complete a series of questionnaires. Participants predicted that their partner would make similar decisions to their own but were more likely to accept a life-saving treatment that could result in reduced quality of life on their partner’s behalf than for themselves. Decisions made by older adults were more likely to conform to the substituted judgment standard, which is encouraging given that they are more likely to be confronted with these decisions in real life, although this was not due to differences in mortality acceptance. Older adults were also more likely to have had previous discussions with their partner and thereby know that person’s wishes and feel confident that they made the right decision, but these factors did not affect their likelihood of conforming to the substituted judgment standard. This shows that encouraging discussions about end of life among families would ease the decision process, but more work is needed to ensure that surrogates can adhere to the substituted judgment standard.

Type: Article
Title: On the Likelihood of Surrogates Conforming to the Substituted Judgment Standard When Making End-of-Life Decisions for Their Partner
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0272989X19862800
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0272989X19862800
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: surrogate decision making, end of life, aging, substituted judgment standard
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082007
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