Seminar Series – Think Again: Is Advance Care Planning Obsolete? with James A. Tulsky, MD

Monday, Sep 27, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Sheila Hutzler-Rives Memorial Lecture

Many health systems use advance care planning as a quality metric for serious illness and end-of-life care. However, after twenty years of research, no clear association has been demonstrated between advance care planning and improved care outcomes. Some believe we are measuring the wrong outcomes; others say that this is an intrinsic good that is not measurable at all. Is it time to reevaluate this practice that is theoretically attractive yet has little empirical validity?

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Passcode: Seminar

Dr. James Tulsky is Chair, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Chief, Division of Palliative Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Center for Palliative Care at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Tulsky attended Cornell University as an undergraduate, completed his medical degree at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, and received his internal medicine training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He continued at UCSF as chief medical resident and subsequently as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar.

From 1993-2015 he was on faculty at Duke University where his last position was Professor of Medicine and Nursing and Chief, Duke Palliative Care. He is the recipient of the 2002 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (the highest national award given by the White House Office of Science and Technology for early career investigators), the 2006 Award for Research Excellence from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the 2013 George L. Engel Award from the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare for “outstanding research contributing to the theory, practice and teaching of effective healthcare communication and related skills,” and the 2014 American Cancer Society Pathfinder in Palliative Care award.

Dr. Tulsky has a longstanding interest in doctor-patient communication and quality of life in serious illness, and has published widely in these areas. His research focuses on the evaluation and enhancement of communication between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer, identification of clinical, psychosocial and spiritual trajectories of patients at the end of life, development of self-management interventions for patients with life-limiting illness, and evaluating the role of palliative care in congestive heart failure. He is a Founding Director of VitalTalk ( a non-profit devoted to nurturing healthier connections between clinicians and patients through communication skills teaching.