This article, the first in a series, is written to clarify the process of weaning from mechanical ventilation and to promote the development of a common language for understanding the complex weaning process. The Third National Study Group on Weaning From Mechanical Ventilation proposes a conceptual model and definitions that will provide a framework for future research on this important topic. This conceptual framework describes the preweaning phase, the weaning process, and the outcome phase of mechanical ventilation. Potential outcomes are completion of weaning, lack of completion, and terminal weaning. The weaning decision continuum incorporates: (1) when and how to begin the weaning process, (2) how to select therapies to assist with difficult weaning and chart progress during weaning, and (3) when to stop weaning if progress is no longer being made. An inherent assumption of this model is that each patient will display unique responses to the weaning process. The proposed conceptual framework and definitions provide a foundation for developing clinical practice guidelines and for guiding future ventilator weaning research.

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