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Web Sites Target End-of-Life Issues

September 18, 2000|MARLA BOLOTSKY

Last Acts


Overview: Last Acts is a public education campaign funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic health-care organization with a strong interest in end-of-life research. The 3-year-old effort aims to build awareness of death-related issues and help individuals and organizations pursue better ways to care for the dying.

What Works: The site is objective and filled with valuable information. The reassuring language and emphasis on palliative (body, mind and spirit) care is comforting, and the resource directory allows you to search for information in the format you want to receive it (brochure, video, download) and often serves as a gateway to information on other Web sites.

What Doesn't: In their zeal to be comprehensive, the site's developers have crowded too much information on the main pages, especially the home page, where dozens of options are poorly organized and in very small type.

Partnership for Caring


Overview: Now one of the leading groups addressing end-of-life issues, Partnership for Caring: America's Voices for the Dying merged with an older group, Choice in Dying, earlier this year. (Predecessors to Choice have been around since 1938 and devised the first living will, in 1967.) Partnership for Caring, started in 1998, promotes patient autonomy about end-of-life medical treatments, including the right to refuse treatment.

What Works: The most popular feature, according to the site's Web master, is a legal package, which you can download or order, consisting of forms for medical power of attorney, organ donation, state-specific living will and designation of a primary physician. You can also download state-specific advance directive forms.

What Doesn't: Visitors may dismiss the site's content as shallow unless they know to click "Choice in Dying" and to be persistent. Partnership says the content will soon be merged.

Worth Checking Out: Growth House ( provides content and referral services for agencies working with death-and dying-issues, and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization ( can help you find a hospice program in your area.


Cathy K. Purcell contributed to this column.

* Marla Bolotsky is director of online information for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. She can be reached at Your Health Online runs the first and third Mondays of every month.

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