Family presence during resuscitation : changing the American paradigm.

Date of Award


Document Type



Caspersen School of Graduate Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Medical Humanities


The practice, known as "Family Presence During Resuscitation" (FPDR), allows one or two family member in the resuscitation room to observe the life-saving measures performed by the rescue team. Although twenty-seven years of previous research has shown there are many positive aspects of FPDR, it remains controversial and has not yet become the standard of practice in most hospitals. The majority of research in the field of FPDR has involved healthcare professionals, not the general public. Families should have the opportunity to choose whether or not they wish to be present during resuscitation. FPDR should not only be a decision of the physician managing the resuscitation, but an informed autonomous one with the family. The ethical concepts of this study include beneficence, paternalism, and autonomy in determining what is optimal for the patient and their families in FPDR. Bridging the gap of misconception, technological advances and newer ethical applications provide a foundation for further discussion of FPDR. The purpose of this study was to determine if factual information, retrieved from previous research studies regarding FPDR, positively influences the perceptions of the adult lay-public in the United States. The original self-administered survey retrieved a convenience sample of 443 lay-public respondents and tested their knowledge and perceptions of the practice of FPDR. The respondents were given pretest questions, then provided factual information and post-tested using the same questions to identify changes in their thinking about FPDR. Results suggest that the public will transform their thinking and perceptions of FPDR when provided factual information. More specifically, the respondents that; experienced family death, were present for a family death, or made their end-of-life wishes known are more likely to choose to be present during resuscitation. Those respondents who had been present at a family death showed the most statistical significance out of the three areas of life experience. When the public becomes more informed on the topic, their interest in attending FPDR will be more positive and decision-making more autonomous. The outcomes achieved in this research further substantiate the need for more education in the topic of FPDR, especially the lay-public.