Principal Investigator:

M. Giacomini

The primary objective of this study was to synthesize the growing body of qualitative evidence on the personal and social impacts of life support technologies in critical care.

Following abstraction of methodological characteristics relevant to the basic critical appraisal of qualitative research (prospective data collection, ethics approval, purposive sampling, iterative data collection and analysis, and any method to corroborate findings) from 39 journal articles and monographs, we conclude that a substantial body of qualitative research evidence exists on life support experiences and decisions in the ICU, some of it outside clinical journals. Prospective and retrospective studies differ characteristically in focus and methods, and sparse reporting of ethics approval and key analytic procedures hinders critical appraisal of this evidence.

Our findings point to a need for greater attention to – and consensus about – the methodological information to which readers are entitled for understanding the value and relevance of qualitative research findings in clinical research.


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