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The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experiences of Thai Buddhist family members in decision making of withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment for critically ill patients at the end of life. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used in this study. Participants were 10 Thai Buddhist family members in Songkhla province who had the experiences under study. Data were collected during March to December, 2017 using individual in-depth individual interviews. Data were analyzed using van Manen’s approach. Trustworthiness was established following Lincoln and Guba’s criteria.
The findings revealed 7 thematic categories reflected within 5 lived-worlds of van Manen. 1) Lived space was as if being alone in the dark; 2) lived body: must be conscious, must accept the nature of life and law of karma; 3) lived time: having hope but accepting the truth; 4) lived relations: seeking spiritual refuge, recognizing patient’s mind and body; and 5) lived things: technologies at the end of life.
The findings in this study provide understanding of the experiences of Thai Buddhist family members in decision making of withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment for critically ill patients at the end of life. The findings can be guidance for physicians and nurses in helping and supporting the patients’ family members in making a decision at the end of life.
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