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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.


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 Receives Penn Medicine Award of Excellence

Scott Halpern was named the recipient of this year's Marjorie A. Bowman New Investigator Research Award. As part of the Penn Medicine Awards of Excellence, awardees exemplify the medical profession's highest…

FIELDS Trainee Featured in Society for Critical Care Medicine Podcast

Joanna Hart, MD was featured in a recent Society for Critical Care Medicine iCritical Care Podcast.  Dr. Hart discussed the FIELDS program and her article published in the September 2012 issue…

FIELDS Program to Partner with Philadelphia VA on Advance Directives Study

Guided by insights from a FIELDS pilot study in a non-Veteran population, a study of the influence of default options in advance directives for seriously ill Veterans will begin at the…

FIELDS Trainee Receives Clinical Research Fellowship from the Doris Duke Foundation

Katie Auriemma, a 4th-year Penn medical student, has been granted a year-long fellowship through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Clinical Research Fellowship Program. Ms. Auriemma will spend her fellowship year working…

FIELDS Trainee Awarded Funding to Study Decision Fatigue

Mary McKenzie, MD, a 3rd-year fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Penn, has been awarded two different grants to study the impact of decision fatigue on end-of-life decision making.…


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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