Millions of young children undergo surgery and anesthesia each year, yet there is a lack of scientific consensus about the safety of anesthesia exposure for the developing brain. Also poorly understood is parental anesthesia-related decision-making and how neurotoxicity information influences their choices. The theoretical model of parental decision-making generated in this research explicates this process. Interviews with 24 mothers yielded a theoretical framework based on their narratives developed using a qualitative grounded theory analysis. Five major themes emerged from these interviews: emotional processing, cognitive processing, relationships as resources, the mother/child dyad, and the health care context. Mothers described a non-linear, iterative process; they moved fluidly through emotional and cognitive processing supported by relationships as resources and influenced by the health care context. A key element was the subtheme of the medical translator, an individual who provided context and information. The mother/child dyad grounded the model in the relationship with the child.

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