The Ethics of Seeking and Assessing "Quality of Life"

28th Annual Medical Ethics Conference – 2019

Friday, March 29, 2019 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Scaife Hall – 11th Floor Conference Center
University of Pittsburgh

Conference Abstract and Objectives
This conference will explore how “quality of life” is defined, measured, and used in various healthcare contexts—from pediatrics to long-term care to hand transplantation—as well as research on healthcare outcomes. It will examine how the field of contemporary bioethics emerged in response to concerns about quality of life, and how bioethics and disability studies can be brought into conversation with each other to develop more nuanced understanding of the concept of quality of life and to appreciate how individuals view their own quality of life. The conference will feature morning lectures with time for discussion, followed by concurrent sessions in the afternoon that include panels, talks, discussion, and consideration of cases.

Following the conference, participants should be able to:

  1. Understand how the different ways of conceptualizing and measuring quality of life—subjective and objective—affect both clinical decision-making (by patients, their surrogates, and clinicians) and health policy
  2. Understand and engage with disability studies perspectives in interpersonal interactions, policy discussions, and both academic and clinical contexts
  3. ​Appreciate sociocultural and religious components of quality of life and the role they play in decision-making regarding health and healthcare

Plenary Lecture: Quality of Life: What is it, how is it measured, and how are the results used?
Joel Tsevat, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine
Joaquin G. Cigarroa, Jr., MD, Distinguished Chair
Director, ReACH Center
Director, KL2 Program, UT Health San Antonio
Professor of Population Health, Dell Medical School, UT Austin

Ira R. Messer Lecture: Can We Avoid Death with Dementia?
Dena S. Davis, JD, PhD
Presidential Chair in Health
Professor of Bioethics
Lehigh University
Duke University

Keynote Lecture: Accessing Justice: Reassessing “Quality of Life” through Disability Studies 
Robert McRuer, PhD
Department of English
George Washington University


Medical Ethics 2019 is Co-Sponsored by:

Ira R. Messer Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation
Consortium Ethics Program, Center for Bioethics & Health Law, University of Pittsburgh
Master of Arts in Bioethics Program, University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Dental Medicine, Law, Medicine, and Social Work of the University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
Center for Ethics & Policy, Carnegie Mellon University