Navigate Up

UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.

Robert Arnold, M.D.

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

​Grants Awarded to Pitt to Improve Quality of Life for Seriously Ill Patients

PITTSBURGH, July 11, 2007 - The Institute to Enhance Palliative Care at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has received grants totaling $250,000 to improve the ability of critical care fellows to communicate with their patients about end-of-life issues.

The grants include a two-year $150,000 award from the National Palliative Care Research Center, and a separate award of $100,000 from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in Pittsburgh.

It is vitally important that fellows learn how to communicate effectively and empathetically when they are dealing with patients who are terminally ill, said Robert Arnold, M.D., professor of medicine and chief, section of palliative care and medical ethics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Studies show that good communication allows patients to receive care consistent with their goals and decreases family distress.

According to Dr. Arnold, critical care fellows receive no formal training about how to have these difficult conversations with families. Moreover, no fellowship program has developed a curriculum that allows fellows to practice and receive feedback on their communication skills in a positive environment. As a result, the grants will be used to develop and implement a comprehensive, evidence-based educational intervention for training fellows in palliative care communication skills.

The three-and-a-half-day intervention will use interactive presentations, skills practice with simulated families and reflective exercises to improve communication skills. At the completion of the intervention, an expert panel will review the curriculum to assess how realistic it represented possible scenarios and its educational soundness. In addition, nurses will help evaluate if the fellows communication skills improved. Preliminary data collected will be used by Dr. Arnold for a larger study on whether an educational communication intervention can positively impact the experience of patients and their families in critical care situations.

For more information, visit


UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |