"What Would Give Her the Best Life?": Understanding Why Families Decline Pediatric Home Ventilation

Kelly J. Shipman, Amanda H. Mercer, Jessica C. Raisanen, Nicholas A. Jabre, Holly Hoa Vo, Alison Miles, Jennifer Shepard, Carrie M. Henderson, Renee D. Boss, Benjamin S. Wilfond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Families who must decide about pediatric home ventilation rely on the clinicians who counsel them for guidance. Most studies about pediatric home ventilation decisions focus on families who opt for this intervention, leaving much unknown about the families who decline. Objective: To describe the rationales of families who decline home ventilation. Design: Semi-structured interview study. Setting/Subjects: We interviewed 16 families in hospitals across 3 U.S. states, identified by their clinicians as previously deciding to not pursue home ventilation via tracheostomy within the past five years. Measurements: Targeted content and narrative analyses were used to understand family intentions and reasons for declining. Results: The clinical and social context varied among the 16 families in this study. Families' intentions in saying "no"fell into two categories: (1) definitive "No": Families who stood firm on in their decision and (2) contingent "No": Families who may consider this in the future. Families described four reasons why their child did not receive home ventilation: (1) concern about medical impacts, (2) concern about physical and/or communication restrictions, (3) concern that there would be no clear health benefit, and (4) concern about no clear meaningful life. Most families mentioned all four reasons, but concern about no clear meaningful life predominated. Conclusions: Though these families did not see home ventilation as an appropriate option, each reported a complex interplay of intentions behind and reasons for declining. Clinicians who counsel families about home ventilation could share the reasons that families commonly decline this intervention to facilitate a balanced discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-940
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • pediatric decision making
  • pediatric palliative care
  • pediatric quality of life
  • qualitative research
  • tracheostomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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