The Foundation's End-of-Life Programs

Changing the American Way of Death

In 1988, the Foundation funded a large multiyear research study of alternate approaches to improving care at the end of life. The study found that, even with the new approaches, people still died in uncontrolled pain, hooked up to machines until just a few hours before they died; that few patients had advance directives such as a living will; and that even if they did, the directives weren't followed.

This chapter of the Anthology by Ethan Bronner, an editor at The New York Times, takes a comprehensive look at this area of grantmaking, explaining the reason the Foundation entered the field, the logic behind its strategy, and the outcomes that have emerged so far. It illustrates how a foundation can become involved in a burgeoning social movement and help give it vitality and direction.