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Determinants of Successful Aging: Developing an Integrated Research Agenda for the 21st Century |

Measuring and Improving the Quality of Dying and Death

Donald L. Patrick, PhD, MSPH; J Randall Curtis, MD, MPH; Ruth A. Engelberg, PhD; Elizabeth Nielsen, MPH; and Ellen McCown, BA
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington.

Grant Support: By the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) (R03 HS09540) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Requests for Single Reprints: Donald L. Patrick, PhD, MSPH, Department of Health Services, Box 357660, 1959 NE Pacific Street, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7660; e-mail, donald@u.washington.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Patrick: Department of Health Services, Box 357660, 1959 NE Pacific Street, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7660.

Drs. Curtis and Engelberg, Ms. Nielsen, and Ms. McCown: Department of Medicine, Health Services, and Medical History and Ethics, Box 359762, 325 Ninth Avenue, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98104.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;139(5_Part_2):410-415. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-139-5_Part_2-200309021-00006
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Older adults face what is perhaps the ultimate challenge for successful aging: dying and death. Our deepest hopes and fears are triggered by personal experiences with dying people; the allure of technological advances; media depictions of deaths good and bad; public debates on assisted suicide; and an almost universal wish to extend life, avoid death, and avoid even thinking about dying and death. The challenge is to come to terms with dying and death so that death occurs without undue discomfort, according to one's goals and wishes, and within the context of one's beliefs and cultural traditions (1).

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