skip to page content
Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Preventing life-sustaining treatment by default.

Braun UK, McCullough LB. Preventing life-sustaining treatment by default. Annals of Family Medicine. 2011 May 1; 9(3):250-6.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


Many physicians will at some point care for patients who will receive life-sustaining treatment by default, because there are no instructions available from the patient as to what kind of care is preferred, and because surrogates are likely to ask for everything to be done when they do not know a patient's preferences. We use the methods of ethics informed by qualitative focus group research to identify 5 pathways to life-sustaining treatment by default originating with the patient's preferred decision-making style: deciding for oneself or letting others decide. We emphasize preventing the ethically unwelcome outcome of life-sustaining treatment by default by increasing the frequency with which patients make clear decisions or clearly express their values and goals that they then communicate to physicians or surrogates.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.