Narrator: This is Science Today. A "good death" may seem like a paradox, but according to Dr. Steve Pantilat of the University of California, San Francisco, it's something everyone facing the end of life should strive for with the help of their doctors, family and friends.
Pantilat: When we ask people, what's important to you at the end of life? What families and patients tell us is that they don't want to be in pain and they don't want to suffer. They want to talk about illness and death with their doctors and nurses. And they want support. They want people to be there, to help them through that time of life.
Narrator: Pantilat co-edited a series dedicated to end-of-life care in The Journal of American Medical Association, which calls for better physician training on this topic.
Pantilat: A lot of doctors have this sense that nobody wants to talk about this stuff, it's kind of depressing, it's kind of sad, nobody wants to talk about death and dying and illness, but when patients were interviewed - they said no, no actually quite the opposite. We want to talk about these things with our doctors. But even though the majority of patients wanted to talk about it - very few ever had. They're waiting for their doctor to bring it up.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.