The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


Brie Williams, MD, MS

Associate Professor

University of California, San Francisco

Grant Year
Grant Term
Grant Type
Pilot & Exploratory Project Support Grant

Project Description
Bringing Advanced Care Planning to Prisons

The number of persons dying in prison is growing, driven by a precipitous rise in the number of older and seriously ill prisoners. Over 75 prisons now have hospice units, but with over 2.000 U.S. prisons, these hospices serve just a fraction of dying individuals. Palliative care - with its focus on establishing goals of care and attention to quality of life throughout serious illness - is frequently absent from prison healthcare outside of hospice. A cornerstone of palliative care is Advanced Care Planning (ACP). ACP is used to identify patients’ goals of care, clarify their definition of quality of life, and ensure communication of their wishes to clinicians. In this Pilot Project we will develop a model ACP Prison Program comprised of clinician training and resources (written procedures and modified evidence-based ACP tools) designed specifically for use in the unique prison healthcare setting. Our long-term goal is to test and refine the model program in prisons nationwide so that it can be disseminated to ensure that all prisoners with serious illness or of advanced age have their healthcare wishes elicited, understood, and followed. 


Brie Williams, MD, MS, is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the UCSF Division of Geriatrics. Dr. Williams conducts transdisciplinary, policy-driven research that applies palliative care and geriatrics paradigms to transform criminal justice healthcare. She has published work calling for a more scientific development of compassionate release policies; broader inclusion of prisoners in NIH-funded health research; and improved systems for defining and responding to disability, cognitive impairment, distressing symptomatology, and multimorbidity in older and/or seriously ill prisoners. She is the Founding Director of the University of California Criminal Justice & Health Consortium, a UC-wide community of over 130 faculty and graduate students spanning 20 academic departments which brings evidence-based healthcare solutions to criminal justice reform. In her role as Associate Director of Tideswell at UCSF, Dr. Williams directs the Criminal Justice Aging Project, which develops and delivers geriatrics and palliative care training to criminal justice professionals including police, correctional officers, judges, attorneys, and clinicians.