Importance: Professional guidelines have identified key communication skills for shared decision-making for critically ill patients, but it is unclear how intensivists interpret and implement them. Objective: To compare the self-evaluations of intensivists reviewing transcripts of their own simulated intensive care unit family meetings with the evaluations of trained expert colleagues. Design, Setting, and Participants: A posttrial web-based survey of intensivists was conducted between January and March 2019. Intensivists reviewed transcripts of simulated intensive care unit family meetings in which they participated in a previous trial from October 2016 to November 2017. In the follow-up survey, participants identified if and how they performed key elements of shared decision-making for an intensive care unit patient at high risk of death. Transcript texts that intensivists self-identified as examples of key communication skills recommended by their professional society's policy on shared decision-making were categorized. Main Outcomes and Measures: Comparison of the evaluations of 2 blinded nonparticipant intensivist colleagues with the self-reported responses of the intensivists. Results: Of 116 eligible intensivists, 76 (66%) completed the follow-up survey (mean [SD] respondent age was 43.1 [8.1] years; 72% were male). Sixty-one of 76 intensivists reported conveying prognosis; however, blinded colleagues who reviewed the deidentified transcripts were less likely to report that prognosis had been conveyed than intensivists reviewing their own transcripts (42 of 61; odds ratio, 0.10; 95% CI, 0.01-0.44; P < .001). When reviewing their own transcript, intensivists reported presenting many choices, with the most common choice being code status. They also provided a variety of recommendations, with the most common being to continue the current treatment plan. Thirty-three participants (43%) reported that they offered care focused on comfort, but blinded colleagues rated only 1 (4%) as explaining this option in a clear manner. Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, guidelines for shared decision-making and end of life care were interpreted by intensivists in disparate ways. In the absence of training or personalized feedback, self-assessment of communication skills may not be interpreted consistently.
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