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Module 3: Analyzing Ethical Challenges in Pediatric
End-of-life Decision Making

Special Considerations of Adolescents: Decision Making


 Facilitators Guide Download PDF  PowerPoint Download PowerPoint

Special Considerations of Adolescents: Decision Making moves from the discussion of truth telling explored in Activity 3.5 to an exploration of the authority adolescents should be granted with regard to making decisions, particularly decisions regarding the use or termination of life supports. It summarizes current ethical guidelines regarding the role of adolescents as decision makers and proposes steps health care professionals can take to better honor adolescent participation in decision making about their health care. As in Activity 3.5, the emphasis is on building alliances among clinicians, adolescents and parents so that decisionally-capacitated adolescents can be heard and their preferences heeded.

Learning Objectives

As a result of attending this session, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of respecting adolescents by involving them in making decisions about their care;
  • Be familiar with findings from developmental psychology and psychiatry, which have concluded that most teenagers from the age of 14 years on are likely to have decisional capacity, and may therefore be as able as adults to consent to, or refuse, treatment;
  • Be able to trace the history of concern within pediatrics, developmental psychology, and bioethics in finding ways to enhance mature minors' participation in health care decision making;
  • Identify and apply a range of recommended practices for involving mature minors in end-of-life decision making;
  • Articulate the health care professionals' obligations and options, when there are seemingly intractable conflicts between parents and adolescents.

[Go to Activity 1]
[Go to Activity 2]
[Go to Activity 3]
[Go to Activity 4]
[Go to Activity 5]
[Go to Activity 7]