The major body of empirical research in medical ethics concerns the clinical debate about the use of life sustaining treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and tube feeding. This debate involves the differential importance given to the many factors pertinent to the patient's management. Since these clinical decisions are based on multiple items of information that are used and interpreted differently by different observers, they represent fertile ground for the application of social judgment theory (SJT). This chapter reviews the empirical research in medical ethics concerning decisions to use the life sustaining treatments of CPR and tube feeding. It also discusses the potential role of SJT or linear models for capturing an individual's decision strategy in addressing some of the major unanswered questions that confront physicians and patients. The use of linear models could be extremely valuable in identifying those factors important to the decision to use life sustaining treatments such as tube feeding and CPR. The most important clinical factors could be identified in a preliminary phase using linear models of the physician's and patient's decision strategies.
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