Family members who looked on as doctors performed CPR on their loved ones were far less likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder three months later, a study has found.
Researchers theorized that a close-up view of the resuscitation efforts might “help family members understand that everything possible to bring the patient back to life has been implemented,” they wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“In addition to quelling suspicion about behind-closed-doors resuscitation efforts and unrealistic expectations of such efforts, the family member’s presence may offer the opportunity for a last goodbye and help that person grasp the reality of death,” they wrote.
French doctors enrolled 570 relatives in their study. Some were asked whether they wanted to watch the medical teams’ efforts, and 79 percent said yes. In the control group, medical teams followed their usual procedures, and 43 percent of relatives wound up witnessing CPR.
The researchers found that the family members in the control group were 70 percent more likely to experience post-traumatic stress 90 days later than those in the group invited to observe CPR. When they looked at the individual data, they found that family members who didn’t watch were 60 percent more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD than family members who did.
In addition, symptoms of anxiety and depression were more common among family members who weren’t present during CPR than among family members who were, the team reported.
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