Public Release: 

NIH convenes State-of-the-Sceince Conference on Improving End-of-Life Care

NIH/Office of the Director

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will hold a State-of-the-Science Conference on Improving End-of-Life Care, December 6-8, 2004 at the Natcher Conference Center on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. A press briefing will be held at the close of the conference, at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8.

Improvements in medical science and health care have gradually changed the nature of dying. Death is no longer likely to be the sudden result of infection or injury, but is now more likely to occur slowly, in old age, and at the end of a period of chronic illness. As a result, a demographic shift is beginning to occur that will include an increase in the number of seriously ill and dying people at the same time that the number of caregivers decreases. These ongoing changes present a number of quality-of-care issues that will impact the healthcare system.

This conference will bring together researchers and practitioners in various aspects of end-of-life care and research, to examine and synthesize the scientific evidence available to answer five key conference questions:

  • What defines the transition to end of life?
  • What outcome variables are important indicators of the quality of the end of life experience for the dying person and for the surviving loved ones?
  • What patient, family, and health care system factors are associated with improved or worsened outcomes?
  • What processes and interventions are associated with improved or worsened outcomes?
  • What are future research directions for improving end-of-life care? During the first day and part of the second day of the conference, experts will present the latest findings in end-of-life research to an independent panel. The panel will then meet in executive session to weigh the evidence before them and prepare its statement assessing the state of the science. The panel will present its draft statement for public comment at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 8.

    The press briefing will be held in the main auditorium of the Natcher Center at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8. Reporters are welcome to attend the full conference, or just the press briefing. Please register at or call 301-496-4819 for more information.

    The complete conference agenda and additional background and logistical information are available at All open conference sessions including the press briefing will also be webcast at


    The primary sponsors of this conference are the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Office of Medical Applications of Research, NIH.

    NOTE TO TV EDITORS: The news conference at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 will be broadcast live via satellite on the following coordinates:

    Galaxy 3 Transponder 07 C-Band
    Orbital slot: 95 degrees West
    Uplink Frequency 5985 Vertical
    Downlink Freq: 3760 Horizontal
    Audio 6.2/6.8
    Test time: 1:30 -- 2:00 p.m. EDT
    Broadcast: 2:00 -- 3:00 p.m. EDT

    NOTE TO RADIO EDITORS: An audio report of the conference results will be available after 4 p.m.Wednesday, December 8, 2004 from the NIH Radio News Service by calling 1-800-MED-DIAL (1-800-633-3425).

    The NIH comprises the Office of the Director and 27 Institutes and Centers. The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, and is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. The NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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