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end-of-life conversations:

tools + resources

Along with CAFP’s End of Life Conversations initiative, we have found a myriad of resources available to help family physicians comfortably and openly enter into such conversations. No one approach will fully prepare you and your team for these conversations, but we encourage you to find the tool most useful to your community in CAFP’s list of references. If you have tools or resources to share, please send them to CAFP.


Integrating Primary Palliative Care into Practice

CAFP member Scott Endsley offers this useful step-by-step guide for adding palliative care services to your office. It includes considerations for workflow, conversations about spiritual aspects of advance directives and advance care planning, summaries of the stages of palliative care, links to several tools and resources and more. Please feel free to download and share it with your team.


American Academy of Family Physicians

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has partnered with the Conversation Project to provide resources that help our members encourage and facilitate the most difficult conversations about end-of-life care. The Conversation Project starter kit guides patients with questions, examples, and tips about how to approach end-of-life decisions and discussions.

AAFP has compiled a list of past features and content from their American Family Physician newsletter to aid interested family physicians on end-of-life care and related issues, including advance directives, hospice care, legal and ethical issues, nursing home care, palliative care and terminal illness.


California Healthcare Foundation

Among a variety of palliative care resources, the California Healthcare Foundation published an issue brief describing the effect of five different payment models on health plans and providers entitled, Five Ways to Pay: Palliative Care Payment Options for Plans and Providers.


Center to Advance Palliative Care

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) is a national membership organization established to provide health care professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care teams in different health care settings.


Coalition for Compassionate Care of California

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) is an interdisciplinary collaborative of stakeholders across health care systems, government agencies, consumer organizations and the general public. CCCC’s tools and resources include topics such as advance care planning, POLST education and a faith leaders toolkit among others. Additionally, CCCC encourages physicians to call a free hotline, 800-893-4548 the Doc 2 Doc consultation line, to access information on the End-of-Life Option Act, including bilingual, information for the public.


Family Caregiver Alliance

Family Caregiver Alliance serves as a platform and public voice for caregivers and addresses the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. Questions concerning medical and financial decisions, for example, are significant but are not always addressed. In alliance with the mission, the Family Caregiver Alliance has created a fact sheet to guide both physicians and patients.


Finding Our Way: Living With Dying in America

Finding Our Way: Living With Dying in America is a short course that covers a variety of topics and contains 15 inspiring articles to discuss and reflect upon. The course strives to teach physicians how to approach the difficult conversations with the same kind of planning and emotional preparedness people strive for in life.


health is primary

What is an advance directive? View this important fact sheet.


Serious Illness Communications Checklist

An article authored by Rachelle E. Bernacki, MD, MS and Susan D. Block, MD that reviews and synthesizes best practices for effective end-of-life communication.


TED Talk: How to Prepare For a Good Death

BJ Miller’s TED Talk, How to Prepare For a Good Death, guides physicians through advice gleaned from his end of life, Zen Hospice Project.


The Conversation Project

Established in 2010, The Conversation Project shares a portable guide called the Conversation Starter Kit in conjunction with several video stories from physicians, patients and families to help make the difficult conversations easier.


University of California, Davis: eDoctoring

UCDavis’ eDoctoring is a comprehensive End-of-Life (EOL) curriculum that offers cases and tutorials focused on practical management of patients at the end of life. This eDoctoring program is designed to improve physical delivery of EOL care to cancer patients by addressing learning knowledge, skills and attitudes.


University of California TV

University of California TV (UCTV) reports on and teaches a variety of topics with the intention of reaching far beyond the borders of a campus. Three particularly relevant videos, Palliative Care: Who is it For, What Does it Do, Why Should I Want it and When?, Decisions at the End of Life: The Illusion of Control and the Sense of Responsibility with Stewart J. Youngner, and End-of-Life Planning: Education, Advocacy and Decision Making will all serve to aid in conversations and end-of-life planning.



VitalTalk, a nonprofit organization, was established with a mission to help ease communication between patients and physicians by use of advanced communication skills courses and faculty training courses focused on balancing honesty with empathy when discussing serious illness and end-of-life care.