Family Decision-Making Surrounding Life-Threatening Illness

April 16 – 17, 2015


In April of 2015, the Stanford Center on Longevity convened a conference to explore and discuss key unanswered questions about decision-making surrounding life-threatening illness and end of life. The aim of the conference was to identify critical turning points and decision contexts that optimize the likelihood that individuals, families and loved ones can manage care in accordance with their goals.

The group of distinguished experts representing family sociology, medicine, ethics, health economics, law, health policy, and psychology elaborated key issues, compiled existing evidence and identified important and unexamined issues about end-of-life practices that, if answered, could inform policies and improve practices surrounding care in the face of life-threatening illness. The meeting focused on the fact that Americans are increasingly talking about end of life issues, and calling for change in how end of life decisions are managed. Yet, it is just as clear that most individuals and families are unsure what they desire at end of life and that many are ill-equipped to make end of life decisions.