Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Staff and family response to end-of-life care in the ICU

Hartog, Christiane, S.a,b; Reinhart, Konrada,b

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: April 2018 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 195–200
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000557
ETHICS, ECONOMICS AND OUTCOME: Edited by Stanley H. Rosenbaum

Purpose of review End-of-life (EOL) care can be stressful for clinicians as well as patients and their relatives. Decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining therapy vary widely depending on culture, beliefs and organizational norms. The following review will describe the current understanding of the problem and give an overview over interventional studies.

Recent findings EOL care is a risk factor for clinician burnout; poor work conditions contribute to emotional exhaustion and intent to leave. The impact of EOL care on families is part of the acute Family Intensive Care Unit Syndrome (FICUS) and the Post Intensive Care Syndrome–Family (PICS-F). Family-centered care (FCC) acknowledges the importance of relatives in the ICU. Several interventions have been evaluated, but evidence for their effectiveness is at best moderate. Some interventions even increased family stress. Interventional studies, which address clinician burnout are rare.

Summary EOL care is associated with negative outcomes for ICU clinicians and relatives, but strength of evidence for interventions is weak because we lack understanding of associated factors like work conditions, organizational issues or individual attitudes. In order to develop complex interventions that can successfully mitigate stress related to EOL care, more research is necessary, which takes into account all potential determinants.

aCenter for Sepsis Control and Care

bDepartment of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Jena University Hospital, Jena, Germany

Correspondence to Dr Konrad Reinhart, ML, Senior Professor, Jena University Hospital, Chairman Global Sepsis Alliance, Paul-Schneider-Street 2, 07747 Jena, Germany. E-mail:

Copyright © 2018 YEAR Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.