Decisions about whether to reassess the clinical condition of patients in a minimally conscious state are a cornerstone of clinical care and management. The outcome of clinical reassessment determines whether efforts to rehabilitate should be escalated, maintained, or targeted more specifically to achieve optimal outcomes. The results of reassessment also underpin decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from this patient group.
Actual decisions about whether to reassess tend to be taken by members of multidisciplinary teams. For this reason, focus groups were chosen to ascertain the views and perceptions of senior decision-makers as to whether minimally conscious patients should have a fundamental “right” to be reassessed. Constructivist grounded theory was used to analyze the data. The results reveal that a range of factors will influence whether these patients are reassessed clinically.
This case study discusses why focus groups using a grounded theory analysis were chosen to address the research question. A description is provided of the coding process that was used to develop theory from the focus group data. This case study will help researchers to understand how these methodologies are carried out as well as to identify the types of insight that can be gained from their use.