The objective is To examine whether the order of presenting survival vs disability information, with or without the description of infant neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experiences would influence treatment choice during hypothetical periviable birth counseling.

An internet sample of childbearing-aged women (n = 839) viewed a pictograph displaying the chances of survival and a pictograph on the chances of disability for a baby resuscitated during the periviable period. The sample was randomized to the order of pictographs and level of description of infant NICU experiences. Participants selected between intensive care or comfort care and reported their personal values. The order of the information influenced treatment choices (P = .02); participants were more likely to choose intensive care if they saw the survival pictograph first (70%) than the disability pictograph first (62%). The level of description of premature infant NICU experiences did not influence treatment choice (P = .92). Participants who valued the sanctity of life, autonomy in making decisions, who were more religious, and had adequate health literacy were more likely to choose intensive care. Such participant characteristics had greater explanatory power than the experimental manipulations.

Subtle differences in how information is presented may influence critical decisions. However, even among women with the same values, diversity in treatment choice remains.

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