Age and disability biases in pediatric resuscitation among future physicians

Rocksheng Zhong, Joshua Knobe, Neal Feigenson, Mark R. Mercurio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined whether biases concerning age and/or disability status influenced resuscitation decisions. Medical students were randomly chosen to read 1 of 4 vignettes, organized in a 2 (age: infant vs school-age) × 2 (disability: preexisting vs no preexisting) between-subjects design. The vignettes described a pediatric patient experiencing an acute episode who required resuscitation. Following resuscitation, patients with existing disability would continue to have disability, whereas those without would develop disability. Participants indicated whether they would resuscitate, given a 10% chance of success. There was a significant main effect of disability: Medical students displayed a preference for resuscitating previously disabled children compared with previously healthy children when prognosis was held constant, F(1, 121) = 4.89, p =.03. This differential treatment of the two groups cannot easily be morally justified and poses a quandary for educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1004
Number of pages4
JournalClinical pediatrics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • clinical
  • decision-making
  • disabilities
  • ethics
  • newborn
  • pediatric
  • resuscitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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