Doctors’ perspectives on law and life-sustaining treatment: Survey design and recruitment strategies for a challenging cohort

Willmott, Lindy, White, Ben, Cartwright, Colleen, Parker, Malcolm, Williams, Gail and Neller, Penny (2016) Doctors’ perspectives on law and life-sustaining treatment: Survey design and recruitment strategies for a challenging cohort. Progress in Palliative Care, 24 4: 213-220. doi:10.1080/09699260.2015.1133031


Author Willmott, Lindy
White, Ben
Cartwright, Colleen
Parker, Malcolm
Williams, Gail
Neller, Penny
Title Doctors’ perspectives on law and life-sustaining treatment: Survey design and recruitment strategies for a challenging cohort
Journal name Progress in Palliative Care   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0969-9260
1743-291X
Publication date 2016-02-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/09699260.2015.1133031
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 24
Issue 4
Start page 213
End page 220
Total pages 8
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Palliative medicine and other specialists play significant legal roles in decisions to withhold and withdraw life-sustaining treatment at the end of life. Yet little is known about their knowledge of or attitudes to the law, and the role they think it should play in medical practice. Consideration of doctors’ views is critical to optimizing patient outcomes at the end of life. However, doctors are difficult to engage as participants in empirical research, presenting challenges for researchers seeking to understand doctors’ experiences and perspectives.

Aims: To determine how to engage doctors involved in end-of-life care in empirical research about knowledge of the law and the role it plays in medical practice at the end of life.

Methods: Postal survey of all specialists in palliative medicine, emergency medicine, geriatric medicine, intensive care, medical oncology, renal medicine, and respiratory medicine in three Australian states: New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. The survey was sent in hard copy with two reminders and a follow up reminder letter was also sent to the directors of hospital emergency departments. Awareness was further promoted through engagement with the relevant medical colleges and publications in professional journals; various incentives to respond were also used. The key measure is the response rate of doctors to the survey.

Results: Thirty-two percent of doctors in the main study completed their survey with response rate by specialty ranging from 52% (palliative care) to 24% (medical oncology). This overall response rate was twice that of the reweighted pilot study (16%).

Conclusions: Doctors remain a difficult cohort to engage in survey research but strategic recruitment efforts can be effective in increasing response rate. Collaboration with doctors and their professional bodies in both the development of the survey instrument and recruitment of participants is essential.
Keyword Survey methods
Respondents
Empirical research
End-of-life care
Law
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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Created: Fri, 01 Jul 2016, 15:06:33 EST by Dr Malcolm Parker on behalf of School of Medicine