Health Professionals’ Attitudes Toward Futile Medical Care in Lithuania
Background and objectives. The topic of futile medical care is being discussed widely in different contexts throughout the world. Many countries have adopted various strategies in dealing with this phenomenon. In Lithuania medical futility remains an ignored topic with little-to-no research in this field. Futile care is devastating because it puts medical professionals to a situation, where they must provide treatment and care, invest expensive materials and knowledge, even though it is obvious that patient will not survive. We aimed to disclose the physicians’ and medical residents’ attitudes to futile medical care in some major Lithuanian health care units.
Methods. The cross-sectional study was conducted to survey a number of different aspects of futile medical care among 548 physicians from intensive care, surgery, and internal medicine units in Lithuania.
Results. Physicians’ attitudes toward care provided in medically futile situations were rather negative, with significant differences between specialty fields: intensivists’ ratings were most negative and internal medicine specialists’ ratings, most positive. Longer work experience correlated with more negative evaluations of futile medical care cases. Physicians who faced the death of patients more often perceived futile care more negatively. More than half of the respondents supported the strategy of withholding care in end-of-life situations, but only intensivists statistically significantly more often favored this strategy.
Conclusions. Overall, Lithuanian health professionals’ attitudes toward medical futility is negative; nevertheless, it is largely affected by specialty field and work experience.
Correspondence to E. Peičius Department of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Public Health, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Tilžės 18, LT-47181 Kaunas, Lithuania. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org