About the Study

Research shows that disagreements are unfortunately perceived to be a common occurrence in the adult intensive care unit (ICU). They may occur when a consensus cannot be reached (between the healthcare team and those close to the patient) on the ‘best interests’ of an adult patient, who is critically unwell and therefore unable to make decisions for his or herself.

Although there is some legal and professional guidance on how these disagreements should be resolved, little is known about how healthcare professionals, patients and patient representatives perceive this guidance. Even less is known about how these disagreements are anticipated, avoided and addressed in the real world.

As part of the CRITICAL study, we will be talking to the different groups of people involved in making decisions in the ‘best interests’ of adults who are unable to make decisions for themselves, during a period of critical illness. The research aims to explore whether disagreements arise during this decision-making process, and how different people perceive these disagreements if they occur. The ultimate aim is to improve the management of disagreements in adult intensive care units.

Around the website, you will find further information about our aims, participating, and the conduct of the study. If you would like to participate, please read the relevant participant information page (for professionals, former ICU patients, or friends and family of former ICU patients). You can then express your interest here. If you have any general queries, please contact us here.

This research study is being conducted by the Centre for Ethics in Medicine at the University of Bristol, as part of the Wellcome Trust funded cross-disciplinary project entitled ‘Balancing Best Interests in Healthcare Ethics and Law’ (BABEL).