This investigation answered the question, What meaning do parents give to the decision to authorize or to withdraw or forgo authorization of life-sustaining treatment for a child? Using an exploratory design, the author interviewed 20 families who had faced this decision in the prior 6 to 12 months. From content analysis, parents' essential meaning was experienced through their sense of self, their being, and an ethic of responsibility. Parents' decisions reflected values regarding the eight key themes of life, pain and suffering, quality of life, not self, respect for person or best interest, family, faith and nature, and technology.
Vice President, Quality Resources and Information Systems, Children's Health Care, Minneapolis, Minnesota.