Robert A. Pearlman, M.D., M.P.H.

Chief, Ethics Evaluation, National Center for Ethics in Health Care

Dr. Robert Pearlman


Research Interest: As the leader for ethics evaluation activities in the National Center for Ethics in Health Care (VHA), Dr. Pearlman is responsible for developing and testing assessment tools that measure ethics quality. Recently, he developed and a staff survey on clinical and organizational ethics and a facility workbook that helps senior leaders identify gaps in ethics programs (by assessing the mechanisms, processes and systems that a facility has in place to promote ethics quality). Both tools feed into quality improvement.  The staff survey has been administered every other year for the last six years, and the results have generated numerous quality improvement projects. His previous research studies pertained to ethics in end-of-life care. His research documented that clinicians often are inaccurate in understanding their patients’ preferences and values about life-sustaining treatment, so consequently he developed a patient-centered workbook to assist in advance care planning. He also studied the relationship between health states and preferences to forego life-sustaining treatment. Other studies have focused on quality of life in decision-making, informed consent, and motivation for assisted suicide. The goal of his earlier studies and current activities is to improve ethics practices in delivering health care to older patients. 

Education and Training:

College: 1971, University of California, Berkeley

Medical School: 1975, Boston University School of Medicine

Residency: 1975-1977, Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, GA; 1977-1978, University of Washington

Master of Public Health: 1980, University of Washington School of Public Health

Fellowship: 1978-1980, University of Washington; 1991-1992, Program in Ethics and the Professions, Harvard University

Publications: Go to PubMed.

Clinic Information: VAPSHCS

General Information:
Seattle VA Puget Sound Health Care System
1660 S. Columbia Way
GRECC 182, Box 358280
Seattle, WA
Phone Number: (206)764-2861
Fax Number: (206)768-5309
email: robert.pearlman@va.gov