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Understanding "End of Life" Medical Decisions

By Rebecca S. Sudore, M.D., and Gloria Mayer, R.N., Ed. D.

(Page 3 of 3)

Upon the study’s conclusion, the IHA began communicating to providers in California to get the word out about using this easy-to-use health care information. IHA was so impressed with the study’s results and the EASY Ad-form that it decided to take the document a step further by doing two things. The first was to post it on the nonprofit organization’s Web site, which is networked nationally with many health literacy advocacy Web sites and organizations. The second was to complete translation of the document into Spanish, while retaining its low literacy reading level and cultural appropriateness.

For Californians, the Easy Advance Directive form is a very simple, fill-in-the-blank document that is written in “bullet-point” style and accompanied by illustrations. The form is divided into three parts: (1) Choose a health care agent who can make medical decisions for you if you are too sick to make them yourself; (2) Make your own health care choices now so those who care for you won’t have to guess what you want if you are too sick to tell them yourself; and (3) A section of the form for necessary signatures that make the document legally binding.

By going to the IHA Web site at and downloading the document for their own distribution, health care providers will do much to help their patients have a say in the decisions that are made about their healthcare, should they become too sick or incapable of speaking for themselves. The document is free to download, is offered in both English and Spanish, and is easy to follow and very simple to complete. It offers individuals the opportunity to make their health care wishes known in advance and reduces the risk of a painful family decision in the event of a tragic illness or injury.

Caregivers in other states who are interested in generating this document in a format and language that is specific to their state’s laws are welcome to do so. However, if the form is changed in order to meet individual state requirements, please inform IHA and the researchers at SFGH-UCSF by sending an email to

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