Tulsky receives Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

James Tulsky, MDJames Tulsky, MD, professor of medicine (General Internal Medicine) and nursing and chief of Duke Palliative Care, has been named the 2014 recipient of the American Cancer Society Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award.

The society presented Dr. Tulsky with the award October 21 at the Kathleen Foley Palliative Care Research Retreat in Park City, Utah.

The award recognizes outstanding achievements of a professional who has demonstrated remarkable innovation and ingenuity contributing to the advancement of the palliative care field.

Dr. Tulsky received the award for his work on oncologist/patient communication, advocacy for palliative and supportive care research, and contributions to the field’s growth and direction. He also was praised for mentorship of faculty in palliative care research.

In the 1990s, Tulsky was the first to examine how residents and faculty talk to patients about resuscitative choices. His landmark study identified major deficiencies in communication and he became a leader in developing interventions to improve clinician communication skills. The hallmark of his work has been a focus on what physicians and patients say during medical encounters. This led to the development of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded online intervention which improved the oncologist’s ability to identify and respond to empathic opportunities and improved trust between clinician and patient.

“Dr. Tulsky’s name has become synonymous with excellence in palliative care communication research and his work has planted the seeds for the next generation,” said Richard Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society.

"I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” Tulsky said.

Tulsky thanked the American Cancer Society for its leadership role advocating for quality of life and access to palliative care services.

"The Pathfinders Award recognizes the importance of treating the whole patient and making sure that all needs are met as individuals and their families experience living with cancer," he said.

See a list of Tulsky's published research articles on his Scholars@Duke profile.

Last month, Tulsky was awarded a $1.7 million grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to disseminate this intervention with oncologists nationwide through a partnership with the American Board of Internal Medicine.