Is there a role for physician involvement in introducing research to surrogate decision makers in the intensive care unit? (The Approach trial: a pilot mixed methods study) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To assess the feasibility of conducting a randomized trial comparing two strategies [physician (MD) vs. non-physician (non-MD)] for approaching substitute decision makers (SDMs) for research and to evaluate SDMs' experiences in being approached for consent. METHODS: A pilot mixed methods study of first encounters with SDMs. RESULTS: Of 137 SDMs (162 eligibility events), 67 and 70 were randomized to MD and non-MD introductions, respectively. Eighty SDMs (98 events) provided consent and 21 SDMs (24 events) declined consent for studies, including 2 SDMs who provided and declined consent. We identified few missed introductions [4/52 (7.7 %)] and protocol violations [6/117 (5.1 %)], high comfort, satisfaction and acceptance scores and similar consent rates in both arms. SDMs provided consent significantly more often when a patient update was provided in the MD arm. Most SDMs (85.7 %) felt that physician involvement was inconsequential and preferred physician time to be dedicated to patient care; however, SDM experiences were closely related to their recall of being approached and recall was poor. SDMs highlighted 7 themes of importance to them in research surrogate decision-making. CONCLUSION: SDMs prioritized the personal attributes of the person approaching them over professional designation and preferred physician time to be dedicated to patient care. A mixed methods design evaluated intervention fidelity and provided the rationale for not proceeding to a larger trial, despite achieving all feasibility metrics in the pilot trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01232621.


  • Burns, KEA
  • Rizvi, L
  • Smith, OM
  • Lee, Y
  • Lee, J
  • Wang, M
  • Brown, M
  • Parker, Melissa
  • Premji, A
  • Leung, D
  • Hammond Mobilio, M
  • Gotlib-Conn, L
  • Nisenbaum, R
  • Santos, M
  • Li, Y
  • Mehta, S

publication date

  • January 2015