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No decisions in healthcare are as complex, and few are as important, as the end-of-life decisions made by patients, their family members, and their clinicians. The Fostering Improvement in End-of-Life Decision Science (FIELDS) Program was launched in 2012 by Dr. Scott Halpern of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania with support from the Otto Haas Charitable Trust. The FIELDS Program's core goals are to understand and improve upon the ways in which end-of-life decisions are made.  We believe that end-of-life decisions often are influenced by "choice architecture" - that is, the ways in which choices are presented and the environments in which decisions are made. Rather than passively accepting these influences on choice, we use approaches from psychology, economics, epidemiology, and sociology to design scalable interventions to increase the probabilities that end-of-life choices match the goals of patients, family members, providers, and society.


Making End-of-life Care More Scientific

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, May 22, 2016

The Philadelphia Inquirer featured an article on the FIELDS program, highlighting their current studies and recent publications. FIELDS is " the country's only program devoted to…

JAMA Features Two FIELDS Publications in its End-of-Life Issue

Evidence-Based Practice Needed in End-of-Life Care

 Source: The Asco Post, December 10, 2015

Dr. Halpern discusses the need for evidence-based end-of-life care in an interview with The Asco Post.

Scott Halpern Elected to American Society for Clinical Investigation

 May 12, 2015

Scott Halpern has been elected to membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), a century-old medical honors society that supports the research work of physician-scientists.

Deposit-Based Financial-Incentive Programs for Smoking Cessation are Superior to Reward-Based Programs

Sources: NYTimesNPR, Time, ReutersABC, NBC, May 13, 2015

Scott Halpern led a study demonstrating that deposit-based, financial-incentive programs for smoking cessation lead to higher…

ICUs give life-saving treatment to many patients with 'do not resuscitate' orders

Source: Newsworks, April 1, 2015

Joanna Hart, MD MSHP, conducted a study demonstrating that ICUs vary drastically in how they care for patients admitted with treatment limitations.

Scott Halpern Awarded a UH2/UH3 Grant to Study Default Palliative Care Consultations

Scott Halpern has been awarded a five-year, $3.17 grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to  conduct a pragmatic randomized trial among seriously ill patients admitted to nine electronically integrated…

Scott Halpern Named Institute of Medicine Anniversary Fellow

FIELDS Director Scott Halpern has been named an Institute of Medicine (IOM) Anniversary Fellow for a two-year term during which he will serve on an expert study committee and participate in other…

Default Options Influence End-Of-Life-Care Preferences

Source: Penn Medicine News, February 4, 2013

A new study comparing different types of advanced directives conducted by Scott Halpern finds that while most seriously ill patients prefer comfort-oriented care, the…

Scott Halpern Receives RWJF Young Leader Award


Scott Halpern, Director

Elizabeth Cooney, Assistant Director   

Mission Statement


The FIELDS Program is a multidisciplinary group of researchers organized around a common goal: to enhance the care patients receive near the end of their lives by increasing understanding of how patients, family members, and clinicians make end-of-life decisions. Guided by these insights, we seek to develop and test interventions that improve the timing, content, and outcomes of these important choices.

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