J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH


Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
A. Bruce Montgomery - American Lung
Association Endowed Chair in Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Director, Cambia Palliative Care Center of

Contact Information

Harborview Medical Center
325 Ninth Avenue, Campus Box 359762
Seattle, Washington 98104

Research Web Page
Academic Office: (206) 744-3356
Fax: (206) 744-8584
Clinic Appointments: (206) 744-3123

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Education and Training

B.A. in Biochemistry, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, 1984.

M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1988.

Residency in Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1991.

Chief Medical Resident, Seattle Veterans Administration Medical Center, University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals, Seattle, WA, 1992.

Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1994.

M.P.H. in Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1994.

Fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1997.

ACLS certified

Research Interests

The overall research objectives are: 1) to improve the quality of palliative and end-of-life care for persons with serious illness including chronic diseases such as end-stage COPD, AIDS, or cancer; 2) to improve patient-clinician communication about palliative end-of-life care; and 3) to integrate palliative care and critical care in the palliative and ICU setting.

The hypotheses of this research are as follows: 1) the quality of end-of-life care and the quality of dying can be measured with questionnaires administered to patients, family members, and health care workers; 2) reliable and valid measurement of the quality of care and the quality of dying will allow researchers to develop and evaluate interventions to improve care for the seriously ill; 3) improving the quality of patient-clinician communication about palliative end-of-life care will improve the quality of care at the end of life; 4) system-level changes to integrate palliative care into the ICU can improve the quality of care for patients and their families as well as job satisfaction for ICU clinicians.

This research program has been supported by grants from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the National Institutes of Health, including the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as the Cambia Health Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Open Society Institute Project on Death in America, and the Greenwall Foundation.

Additional information can be obtained by visiting the End of Life Care Research Program website.

Representative Publications

Curtis JR, Engelberg RA, Wenrich MD, Shannon SE, Treece PD, Rubenfeld GD. Missed opportunities during family conferences about end-of-life care in the intensive care unit. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2005; 171:844-849.

Lautrette A, Darmon M, Megarbane B, Jolly LM, Chevret S, Adrie C, Barnoud D, Bleichner G, Bruel C, Choukroun G, Curtis JR, Fieux F, Galliot R, Garrouste-Orgeas M, Georges H, Goldgran-Toledano D, Jourdain M, Loubert G, Reignier J, Saidi F, Souweine B, Vincent F, Barnes NK, Pouchard F, Schlemmer B, Azoulay E. A communication strategy and brochure for relatives of patients dying in the ICU. New England Journal of Medicine 2007; 356:469-478.

White DB, Curtis JR, Wolf L, Prendergast TJ, Taichman DB, Kuniyoshi G, Acerra F, Lo B, Luce JM. Life support decisions for incapacitated patients without surrogates: Who decides? Annals of Internal Medicine 2007; 147:34-40.

Curtis JR, Treece PD, Nielsen EL, Downey L, Shannon SE, Braungardt T, Owens D, Steinberg KP, Engelberg RA. Integrating palliative and critical care: Evaluation of a quality improvement intervention. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2008; 178:269-275.

Thornton JD, Pham K, Engelberg RA, Jackson JC, Curtis JR. Families with limited English proficiency receive less information and support in interpreted ICU family conferences. Critical Care Medicine 2009; 37:89-95.

Ehlenbach WJ, Barnato AE, Curtis JR, Kreuter W, Koepsell TD, Deyo RA, Stapleton RD. The epidemiology of in-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation in older adults: 1992-2005. New England Journal of Medicine 2009; 361:22-31.

Curtis JR, Nielsen EL, Treece PD, Downey L, Dotolo D, Shannon SE, Back AL, Rubenfeld GD, Engelberg RA. Effect of a quality improvement intervention on end-of-life care in the intensive care unit: A randomized trial. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2011: 183:348-55.

Au DH, Udris EM, Engelberg RA, Diehr PH, Bryson CL, Reinke LF, Curtis JR. A randomized trial to improve communication about end-of-life care among patients with COPD. Chest 2012; 141:726-735.

Starks H, Wang S, Farber S, Owens DA, Curtis JR. Cost savings vary by length of stay for in-patients receiving palliative care consult services. Journal of Palliative Medicine 2013; 16:1215-1220.

Curtis JR, Back AL, Ford DW, Downey L, Shannon SE, Doorenbos AZ, Kross EK, Reinke LF, Feemster LC, Barbara Edlund B, Arnold RW, O'Connor K, Engelberg RA. Effect of communication skills training for residents and nurse practitioners on quality of communication with patients with serious illness: a randomized trial. JAMA 2013; 310:2271-2281.


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