Anthony L. Back, MD

Anthony L. Back, MD

Department of Medicine
Division of Oncology

Mailing Address

325 Ninth Ave, Box 359762, Room 10CT-23
Seattle, WA 98104

Admin Contact

Tami Music
Fax: 206.744.8584

Specialty / Expertise

GI Oncology
Palliative Medicine

Research Interests

Patient-Doctor Communication
Palliative Medicine

Current Research Projects

Title: Patient and Family Assessment of Doctor Communication
Funding Source: Lance Armstrong Foundation
The major goals of this project: To compare patient and family caregiver evaluations of physician communication performance with an expert content based coding system at pre- and post- Oncotalk time points and to identify and describe key qualities of physician communication that patients and family caregivers perceive as improved and valued as a result of the Oncotalk intervention.

Title: Training Oncology Faculty to teach Communication
Funding Source: National Cancer Institute
The major goals of this project: This project is a faculty development program for Oncology faculty to bring communication skills training as developed in Oncotalk to their home institutions.


Dr. Back received his AB from Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA and his MD from Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Oncology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA.

Selected Publications

Back AL, Michaelsen K, Alexander S, Hopley E, Edwards K, Arnold RM. How oncology fellows discuss transitions in goals of care: a snapshot of approaches used prior to training. J Palliat Med. 2010 Apr;13(4):395-400.

Back AL, Bauer-Wu SM, Rushton CH, Halifax J. Compassionate silence in the patient-clinician encounter: a contemplative approach. J Palliat Med. 2009 Dec; 12(12):1113-7.

Quill TE, Arnold R, Back AL. Discussing treatment preferences with patients who want “everything”. Ann Intern Med. 2009 Sep 1;51(5):345-9.

Back AL, Young JP, McCown E, Engelberg RA, Vig EK, Reinke LF, Wenrich MD, McGrath BB, Curtis JR. Abandonment at the end of life from patient and clinician perspectives: loo of continuity and lack of closure. Arch Int Med. 2009 Mar 9;169(5):474-9.

Back AL, Arnold RM, Baile WF, Tulsky JA, Barley, GE, Pea RD, Fryer-Edwards KA. Faculty development to change the paradigm of communication skills teaching in oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Mar 1;27(7):1137-41. Epub 2009 Jan 26.

Goldstein NE, Back AL, Morrison RS. Titrating guidance: a model to guide physicians in assisting patients and family members who are facing complex decisions. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Sep 8;168(16):1733-9.

Back AL, Arnold RM, Baile WF, Fryer-Edwards KA, Alexander SC, Barley GE, Gooley TA, Tulsky JA. Efficacy of Communication Skills Training for Giving Bad News and Discussing Transitions to Palliative Care. Arch Intern Med, 2007 Mar 15; 167:1-8.

Back, A.L., Arnold, R.M., Discussing prognosis: How much do you want to know? Talking to patients who do not want information or who are ambivalent. J Clin Oncol 2006 Sep 1;24(25):4214-7.

Back AL, Arnold RM, Baile WF, Tulsky JA, Fryer-Edwards K. Approaching Difficult Communication Tasks in Oncology. CA Cancer J Clin 2005 55:164-167.

Back AL, Arnold RM. Dealing with conflict in caring for the seriously ill. JAMA 2005 293:1374-1381.

Back AL, Arnold RM, Quill TE. Hoping for the Best and Preparing for the Worst. Ann Intern Med 2003 138:439-443.

Back AL, Starks H, Hsu C, Gordon JR, Bharucha A, Pearlman RA. Clinician-patient interactions about requests for physician-assisted suicide: a patient and family view. Archives Int Med 2002 162(11):1257-1265.

Shanafelt TD, Bradley KA, Wipf JE, Back AL. 2002. Burnout and Self-reported Patient Care in an Internal Medicine Residency Program. Ann Intern Med 2002 136:358-367.

Meier DE, Back AL, Morrison RS. 2001. The Inner Life of Physicians and Care of the Seriously Ill. JAMA 2001 286:3007-3014.

Published Books: Back AL, Arnold RM, and Tulsky JA. Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Web site: http://oncotalk.info/

Last updated: August 2010