Family involvement in medical decision-making: Perceptions of nursing and psychology students

Michal Itzhaki, Galya Hildesheimer, Sivia Barnoy, Michael Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Family members often rely on health care professionals to guide and support them through the decision-making process. Although family involvement in medical decisions should be included in the preservice curriculum for the health care professions, perceptions of students in caring professions on family involvement in medical decision-making have not yet been examined. Objective: To examine the perceptions of nursing and psychology students on family involvement in medical decision-making for seriously ill patients. Design: A descriptive cross-sectional design was used. Setting and Participants: First year undergraduate nursing and psychology students studying for their Bachelor of Arts degree were recruited. Methods: Perceptions were assessed with a questionnaire constructed based on the Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT), which examines decision-maker preferences. The questionnaire consisted of two parts referring to the respondent once as the patient and then as the family caregiver. Results: Questionnaires were completed by 116 nursing students and 156 psychology students. Most were of the opinion that family involvement in decision-making is appropriate, especially when the patient is incapable of making decisions. Nursing students were more inclined than psychology students to think that financial, emotional, and value-based considerations should be part of the family's involvement in decision-making. Both groups of students perceived the emotional consideration as most acceptable, whereas the financial consideration was considered the least acceptable. Conclusions: Nursing and psychology students perceive family involvement in medical decision-making as appropriate. In order to train students to support families in the process of decision-making, further research should examine Shared Decision-Making (SDM) programs, which involve patient and clinician collaboration in health care decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education Today
StatePublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Decision-making
  • Family involvement
  • Nursing students
  • Psychology students
  • Shared Decision-Making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)
  • Education


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