Developing a Research and Education Agenda to Improve End-of-Life Care in Intensive Care Units

University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)

Field of Work: End-of-Life Care

Problem Synopsis: During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans began to be concerned about the long period of suffering many people endured before their deaths. According to researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSM), about half of patients who die in hospitals receive care in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) within three days of their death. One-third spend 10 or more days in the ICU during their final hospitalization.

Synopsis of the Work: With $107,906 from the Special Opportunities Fund of from RWJF's Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care national program, researchers from the University of Washington organized and convened a workshop to develop a research agenda for improving end-of-life care in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and create educational content for presentations at professional society meetings about end-of-life care in ICUs. Some 43 experts in the fields of critical care medicine, palliative medicine, medical ethics and the legal aspects of medicine attended the December 1998 workshop.

Key Results: Workshop participants determined that a research agenda for end-of-life care in ICUs should define the problem, identify solutions and evaluate them, and overcome barriers to researching end-of-life care.

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