"Many medical team members are reluctant to permit the presence of family members during resuscitation because of fear of medicolegal conflicts," Adnet and colleagues noted.
"Although our sample size is small and the medicolegal culture may be different in France than elsewhere, our findings should help allay physicians' medicolegal concerns," they wrote.
A possible limitation of the study was its exclusion of resuscitative attempts taking place in the hospital, and further work will be needed to establish the generalizability of these findings to other settings.
"This study provides useful data that will advance debate surrounding family-witnessed resuscitation," Dr. Daniel B. Kramer and Dr. Susan L. Mitchell of Harvard University wrote in an accompanying editorial.
"Most notably, when offered the choice to witness resuscitative efforts, most relatives opted to do so, and having that choice improved mental health outcomes, with no evidence of harm to any stakeholders," Kramer and Mitchell wrote.
"Future studies should aim to improve our understanding of why this choice may reduce the suffering of family members and whether such an approach could be implemented in practice in a safe and cost-effective manner," they advised.