Improving end-of-life decision-making with a multidisciplinary approach
Penn State College of Medicine is home to a multidisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians working in the areas of advance care planning and surrogate decision-making. The research team is co-led by Drs. Benjamin Levi and Michael Green, physicians and bioethicists who have collaborated for more than 25 years. The team is broad and eclectic, including primary care and subspecialist physicians, nurses, lawyers and people with expertise in public health, policy, philosophy and mixed-methods research.
About the research
Using a variety of research methods, the advance care planning team studies ways to improve communication and decision-making at the end of life, combining quantitative and qualitative tools.
This research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Greenwall Foundation and others.
The team has developed a variety of interventions for both patients and family caregivers, including Living Voice (formerly Making Your Wishes Known), an online advance care planning decision aid that has been evaluated in several clinical trials among diverse populations.
The group also studies how serious games impact communication and behavior – including a conversation game called “Hello,” which is widely used to engage people in vibrant discussions about end-of-life issues.
Team members enjoy collaborating with other researchers and welcome opportunities to learn about their work.
Help for surrogate decision-makers
The team is also conducting an analysis of how family caregivers understand and experience surrogate decision-making for loved ones who have advanced life-threatening conditions. Using mixed methods, this project analyzes quantitative data (about family caregivers’ anxiety, stress, personality type and communication preferences) and qualitative interview data (about their experience with surrogate decision-making) to develop a more complete picture of the decision-making process.
"Hello" conversation game
Barriers to effective planning
Multiple goals communication
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