Sociologists to explore end-of-life care in Feb. 23 talk

By the year 2060, the number of Americans over age 65 is expected to double, to 24 percent of the population, intensifying concerns about end-of-life care.

In a Feb. 23 talk, sociologists Holly Prigerson and Libby Luth will speak on “Psychosocial Influences on End-of-Life Care: Leveraging and Application of Social Constructs,” at 3:30 p.m. in Room 302, Uris Hall.

Prigerson, the Irving Sherwood Wright Professor of Geriatrics, professor of sociology in medicine, and director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medicine, will highlight the role of patients’ race and gender in shaping their understanding of illness and their treatment preferences for end-of-life care.

“Holly has made a huge contribution to our understanding of the grief and bereavement surrounding the death of family members and loved ones,” said event host David Strang, professor of sociology.

Prigerson received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University and has graduate degrees in history and sociology from Stanford University. Her research focuses on psychosocial and behavioral influences on medical care, and care outcomes for patients and families confronting life-threatening illnesses and death. She has studied stages of grief, outcomes of end-of-life communication, and the effects of religious coping on medical decision-making and care near death.

Her honors include the 2012 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Distinguished End of Life Researcher Award and the 2015 National Cancer Institute R35 Outstanding Investigator Award.

Luth, a postdoctoral associate whose visit to the Ithaca campus is supported by the Trainees Scholarly Exchange Program at Weill Cornell Medicine, will extrapolate sociological insights from Prigerson’s key findings and discuss how a sociological lens can help deepen understanding of these findings. She will also examine opportunities and challenges for sociologists to make contributions to medical research in collaborations with clinicians.

The talk is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences and Weill Cornell Medicine.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer at the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Jeff Tyson