Michael Rabow, MD


Medicine Home, Palliative Medicine

Michael W. Rabow, MD, FAAHPM, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Palliative Care, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology and Associate Chief of Education & Mentoring in the Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Rabow attended UCSF for medical school and general internal medicine residency training.  He completed fellowships at UCSF in general medicine, as well as in medical education research and is board-certified in internal medicine and hospice & palliative care. For 25 years previously, Dr. Rabow was in the Division of General Medicine and continued an active primary care practice along with his work in palliative care.

Program Development
Dr. Rabow directs a leading outpatient palliative care program-- the Symptom Management Service-- at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.  One of the largest palliative care programs in a cancer center nationally, the Symptom Management Service currently provides outpatient palliative care co-management in more than 30 half-day clinics weekly across three campuses at UCSF. He was the founding director of the UCSF/Mount Zion Hospital and Bakar Hospital Palliative Care Consultation Services. 

Dr. Rabow is a national expert in outpatient palliative care research and service delivery. He has conducted both controlled and longitudinal trials of outpatient palliative care consultation, as well as multiple surveys of current outpatient palliative care consultation practices nationally. He is currently part of a PCORI study examining home-based palliative care. He lectures widely and has published over 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of palliative care, spirituality, family caregiving, and end-of-life care education.

An expert in Community-Based Palliative Care, Dr. Rabow also serves as a consultant to medical centers nationally working to develop or expand their palliative care services, and as a consultant to numerous prominent professional or philanthropic organizations dedicated to expanding palliative care access and quality. Dr. Rabow served as the lead of the project advisory board for the “Improving Palliative Care in the Outpatient Setting” (IPAL-OP) initiative at the Center to Advance Palliative Care. He directed the outpatient palliative care service assessment team for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Dr. Rabow is on the advisory board to the Palliative Care Institute of the California State University at San Marcos, which provides online education and certification for members of the palliative care interdisciplinary team.

Dr. Rabow is one of the leads of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) and a member of the curriculum development committee for the PCLC Initiative nationally. The PCLC Initiative has trained more than 1000 hospital- and community-based palliative care programs in the United States. Previously, Dr. Rabow helped direct the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services, the first program to support the development of hospital-based palliative care services in California. In addition, Dr. Rabow served as a technical advisor and member of the leadership team for the Archstone Foundation’s Hospital-Based Palliative Care Service Innovations project.

Dr. Rabow is the founding director of the Center for Education in Palliative Care at UCSF/Mount Zion, which also serves as the central hub for palliative care education across the UCSF enterprise. Dr. Rabow is an active member of the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators. He was Assistant Editor for the bimonthly section in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled “Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life.” This series now appears as a palliative care textbook, Care at the Close of Life. For 15 years, he served as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Healer’s Art at the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal in California. Dr. Rabow is the Associate Editor of the world’s best-selling annually-updated general medicine textbook, Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. Dr. Rabow is the executive producer of “The Caregivers” documentary film and accompanying family caregiver handbook.

Major Awards
In addition to numerous UCSF teaching awards and awards for research presentations at national meetings, in 2016, Dr. Rabow was selected as the winner of the AAHPM PDIA National Palliative Care Leadership Award. He is a past recipient of the Soros Project on Death in America award and the Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award.

2018 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training, University of California
M.D., 1993 - School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Residency, - School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Honors and Awards
  • The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award, The Hastings Center, 2012
  • Geriatrics Abstract Award, “Palliative and Oncologic Co-Management: Symptom Management for Outpatien, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2011
  • Honorable Mention, UCSF Exceptional Physician Award, UCSF, 2011
  • Second Place, Best Paper Award, International Conference on Cancer Education, American Association of Cancer Education, 2010
  • Essential Core Teaching Award for Outstanding Lecture from the UCSF Class of 2012, UCSf, 2010
  • American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Paper Award, “Filming the Family: Evaluation, AAHPM, 2009
  • Best Research Poster, AAMC Western Regional GEA/GSA Annual Conference, AAMC, 2004
  • California Clinician-Educator Award, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2004
  • Outstanding Lecture Award from the UCSF Class of 2006, UCSF, 2004
  • David E. Rogers Junior Faculty Education Award, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2002
  • Project on Death in America, Faculty Scholar, Soros Foundation, 2002
  • Robert H. Crede Award for Excellence in Teaching, UCSF, 2000
  • UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Residency Teaching Award, UCSF, 1999
  • Alpha Omerga Alpha, UCSF, 1993
  • Summa Cum Laude, Harvard University, 1987
  1. Lawrence EC, Carvour ML, Camarata C, Andarsio E, Rabow MW. Requiring the Healer's Art Curriculum to Promote Professional Identity Formation Among Medical Students. 2020. PMID: 32748226

  2. Lorenz KA, Mickelsen J, Vallath N, Bhatnagar S, Spruyt O, Rabow M, Agar M, Dy SM, Anderson K, Deodhar J, Digamurti L, Palat G, Rayala S, Sunilkumar MM, Viswanath V, Warrier JJ, Gosh-Laskar S, Harman SM, Giannitrapani KG, Satija A, DeNatale M. The Palliative Care - Promoting Assessment and Improvement of the Cancer Experience (PC-PAICE) Project: A Multi-Site International Quality Improvement Collaborative. 2020. PMID: 32858163

  3. Bischoff KE, Zapata C, Sedki S, Ursem C, O'Riordan DL, England AE, Thompson N, Alfaro A, Rabow MW, Atreya CE. Embedded palliative care for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer: a mixed-methods pilot study. 2020. PMID: 32285263

  4. Anderson WG, Parrish M, Kerr K, Kinderman A, Rabow M, Schoen M, Meyers K. Generalist Palliative Care in the California Safety Net: A Structured Assessment to Design Interventions for a Range of Care Settings. 2020. PMID: 32281414

  5. Suen LW, Leyde S, Min K, Volow A, Rabow M, Sudore RL. Thinking Outside the Visit: Primary Care Patient Perspectives on Helpful Advance Care Planning Methods. 2019. PMID: 31654349

  6. Schumacher KL, Plano Clark VL, Rabow MW, Paul SM, Miaskowski C. The Experience of Complex Pain Dynamics in Oncology Outpatients: A Longitudinal Qualitative Analysis. 2019. PMID: 31569180

  7. Valenta S, Spichiger E, Paul SM, Rabow MW, Plano Clark VL, Schumacher KL, Miaskowski C. A Longitudinal Study of Predictors of Constipation Severity in Oncology Outpatients with Unrelieved Pain. 2019. PMID: 31494176

  8. Enguidanos S, Rahman A, Fields T, Mack W, Brumley R, Rabow M, Mert M. Expanding Access to Home-Based Palliative Care: A Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol. 2019. PMID: 31486727

  9. Swarm RA, Paice JA, Anghelescu DL, Are M, Bruce JY, Buga S, Chwistek M, Cleeland C, Craig D, Gafford E, Greenlee H, Hansen E, Kamal AH, Kamdar MM, LeGrand S, Mackey S, McDowell MR, Moryl N, Nabell LM, Nesbit S, O'Connor N, Rabow MW, Rickerson E, Shatsky R, Sindt J, Urba SG, Youngwerth JM, Hammond LJ, Gurski LA. Adult Cancer Pain, Version 3.2019, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. 2019. PMID: 31390582

  10. Calton BA, Rabow MW, Branagan L, Dionne-Odom JN, Oliver DP, Bakitas MA, Fratkin MD, Lustbader D, Jones CA, Ritchie CS. Top Ten Tips Palliative Care Clinicians Should Know About Telepalliative Care. 2019. PMID: 31237467

  11. O'Riordan DL, Rathfon MA, Joseph DM, Hawgood J, Rabow MW, Dracup KA, De Marco T, Pantilat SZ. Feasibility of Implementing a Palliative Care Intervention for People with Heart Failure: Learnings from a Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial. 2019. PMID: 31099698

  12. Kittelson S, Scarton L, Barker P, Hauser J, O'Mahony S, Rabow M, Delgado Guay M, Quest TE, Emanuel L, Fitchett G, Handzo G, Yao Y, Chochinov HM, Wilkie D. Dignity Therapy Led by Nurses or Chaplains for Elderly Cancer Palliative Care Outpatients: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial. 2019. PMID: 30994466

  13. Raghavan K, Copeland TP, Rabow M, Ladenheim M, Marks A, Pantilat SZ, O'Riordan D, Seidenwurm D, Franc B. Palliative care and imaging utilisation for patients with cancer. 2019. PMID: 30826736

  14. Rabow MW, McGowan M, Small R, Keyssar R, Rugo HS. Advance Care Planning in Community: An Evaluation of a Pilot 2-Session, Nurse-Led Workshop. 2018. PMID: 30153741

  15. Bischoff K, Yang E, Kojimoto G, Shepard Lopez N, Holland S, Calton B, Adkins SH, Cheng S, Miller BJ, Rabow MW. What We Do: Key Activities of an Outpatient Palliative Care Team at an Academic Cancer Center. 2018. PMID: 29431580

  16. Rabow MW, Petzel MQB, Adkins SH. Symptom Management and Palliative Care in Pancreatic Cancer. 2017. PMID: 29189333

  17. Rabow M, Small R, Jow A, Majure M, Chien A, Melisko M, Belkora J, Esserman LJ, Rugo H. The value of embedding: integrated palliative care for patients with metastatic breast cancer. 2017. PMID: 29086230

  18. Kestenbaum A, Shields M, James J, Hocker W, Morgan S, Karve S, Rabow MW, Dunn LB. What Impact Do Chaplains Have? A Pilot Study of Spiritual AIM for Advanced Cancer Patients in Outpatient Palliative Care. 2017. PMID: 28736103

  19. Calton BA, Thompson N, Shepard N, Keyssar R, Patel K, Dzul-Church V, Kao H, Ritchie C, Rabow MW. "She Would Be Flailing Around Distressed": The Critical Role of Home-Based Palliative Care for Patients with Advanced Cancer. Volume 20 of Issue 8. 2017. PMID: 28437205

  20. Calton BA, Alvarez-Perez A, Portman DG, Ramchandran KJ, Sugalski J, Rabow MW. The Current State of Palliative Care for Patients Cared for at Leading US Cancer Centers: The 2015 NCCN Palliative Care Survey. 2016. PMID: 27407126

  21. Rabow MW, Dahlin C, Calton B, Bischoff K, Ritchie C. New Frontiers in Outpatient Palliative Care for Patients With Cancer. Volume 22 of Issue 4. 2015. PMID: 26678973

  22. Ritchie CS, Rabow MW. Fostering a Quality of Care Culture in Community-Based Palliative Care: What Will It Take? Volume 18 of Issue 7. 2015. PMID: 26053462

  23. Kestenbaum A, James J, Morgan S, Shields M, Hocker W, Rabow M, Dunn LB. "Taking your place at the table": an autoethnographic study of chaplains' participation on an interdisciplinary research team. 2015. PMID: 25934500

  24. LeBlanc TW, O'Donnell JD, Crowley-Matoka M, Rabow MW, Smith CB, White DB, Tiver GA, Arnold RM, Schenker Y. Perceptions of palliative care among hematologic malignancy specialists: a mixed-methods study. 2015. PMID: 25784580

  25. Rabow MW, O'Riordan DL, Pantilat SZ. A statewide survey of adult and pediatric outpatient palliative care services. 2014. PMID: 25137356

  26. Schumacher KL, Plano Clark VL, West CM, Dodd MJ, Rabow MW, Miaskowski C. Pain medication management processes used by oncology outpatients and family caregivers part II: home and lifestyle contexts. 2014. PMID: 24709364

  27. Schumacher KL, Plano Clark VL, West CM, Dodd MJ, Rabow MW, Miaskowski C. Pain medication management processes used by oncology outpatients and family caregivers part I: health systems contexts. 2014. PMID: 24704800

  28. Rabow MW. Chemotherapy near the end of life. 2014. PMID: 24598123

  29. Rabow MW, Newman M, Remen RN. Teaching in relationship: the impact on faculty of teaching "the Healer's Art". 2014. PMID: 24702547

  30. Schenker Y, Crowley-Matoka M, Dohan D, Rabow MW, Smith CB, White DB, Chu E, Tiver GA, Einhorn S, Arnold RM. Oncologist factors that influence referrals to subspecialty palliative care clinics. 2013. PMID: 24301842

  31. Rabow M, Kvale E, Barbour L, Cassel JB, Cohen S, Jackson V, Luhrs C, Nguyen V, Rinaldi S, Stevens D, Spragens L, Weissman D. Moving upstream: a review of the evidence of the impact of outpatient palliative care. 2013. PMID: 24225013

  32. Swarm RA, Abernethy AP, Anghelescu DL, Benedetti C, Buga S, Cleeland C, Deleon-Casasola OA, Eilers JG, Ferrell B, Green M, Janjan NA, Kamdar MM, Levy MH, Lynch M, McDowell RM, Moryl N, Nesbit SA, Paice JA, Rabow MW, Syrjala KL, Urba SG, Weinstein SM, Dwyer M, Kumar R. Adult cancer pain. 2013. PMID: 23946177

  33. Smith AK, Thai JN, Bakitas MA, Meier DE, Spragens LH, Temel JS, Weissman DE, Rabow MW. The diverse landscape of palliative care clinics. 2013. PMID: 23662953

  34. Fried TR, Vaz Fragoso CA, Rabow MW. Caring for the older person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 2012. PMID: 23011715

  35. Rabow MW, Lee MX. Palliative care in castrate-resistant prostate cancer. 2012. PMID: 23084526

  36. Gilbertson-White S, Aouizerat BE, Jahan T, Paul SM, West C, Schumacher K, Dodd MJ, Rabow M, Abu Raddaha AH, Miaskowski C. Determination of cutpoints for low and high number of symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. 2012. PMID: 22853731

  37. Pantilat SZ, Kerr KM, Kutner JS, Ferris FD, Rathfon MA, Rabow MW. Leveraging external resources to grow and sustain your palliative care program: a call to action. 2011. PMID: 22165898

  38. Baker M, Wrubel J, Rabow MW. Professional development and the informal curriculum in end-of-life care. 2011. PMID: 21350931

  39. Casey C, Chen LM, Rabow MW. Symptom management in gynecologic malignancies. 2011. PMID: 21806331

  40. Rabow MW, Pantilat SZ, Kerr K, Enguidanos S, Ferrell B, Goldstein R, Pankratz C, Picchi T, Rosenfeld KE, Stone SC. The intersection of need and opportunity: assessing and capitalizing on opportunities to expand hospital-based palliative care services. 2010. PMID: 20831435

  41. Swarm R, Abernethy AP, Anghelescu DL, Benedetti C, Blinderman CD, Boston B, Cleeland C, Coyle N, Deleon-Casasola OA, Eilers JG, Ferrell B, Janjan NA, Karver SB, Levy MH, Lynch M, Moryl N, Murphy BA, Nesbit SA, Oakes L, Obbens EA, Paice JA, Rabow MW, Syrjala KL, Urba S, Weinstein SM. Adult cancer pain. 2010. PMID: 20876544

  42. Rabow MW, Spiegel D, Rosenbaum EH. Compassionate care during the endless hours. 2010. PMID: 20552927

  43. Rabow MW, Smith AK, Braun JL, Weissman DE. Outpatient palliative care practices. 2010. PMID: 20386012

  44. Rabow MW, Remen RN, Parmelee DX, Inui TS. Professional formation: extending medicine's lineage of service into the next century. 2010. PMID: 20107361

  45. Remen RN, O'Donnell JF, Rabow MW. The Healer's art: education in meaning and service. 2008. PMID: 18444050

  46. Fernandes R, Shore W, Muller JH, Rabow MW. What it's really like: the complex role of medical students in end-of-life care. 2008. PMID: 18444188

  47. Pantilat SZ, Rabow MW, Citko J, von Gunten CF, Auerbach AD, Ferris FD. Evaluating the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services. 2006. PMID: 16432093

  48. Remen RN, Rabow MW. The Healer's Art: professionalism, service and mission. 2005. PMID: 16262843

  49. Markowitz AJ, Rabow MW. Palliative care for patients with heart failure. 2004. PMID: 15479940

  50. Rabow MW, Dibble SL, Pantilat SZ, McPhee SJ. The comprehensive care team: a controlled trial of outpatient palliative medicine consultation. 2004. PMID: 14718327

  51. Markowitz AJ, Rabow MW. Alzheimer disease: "it's okay, mama, if you want to go, it's okay". 2003. PMID: 12837718

  52. Bookwalter TC, Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. Content on end-of-life care in major pharmacy textbooks. 2003. PMID: 12845920

  53. Lo B, Kates LW, Ruston D, Arnold RM, Cohen CB, Puchalski CM, Pantilat SZ, Rabow MW, Schreiber RS, Tulsky JA. Responding to requests regarding prayer and religious ceremonies by patients near the end of life and their families. 2003. PMID: 14509486

  54. Rabow MW, Petersen J, Schanche K, Dibble SL, McPhee SJ. The comprehensive care team: a description of a controlled trial of care at the beginning of the end of life. 2003. PMID: 14509498

  55. Markowitz AJ, Rabow M. Management of dyspnea in patients with far-advanced lung disease. 2002. PMID: 11980526

  56. Markowitz AJ, Rabow MW. Caring for bereaved patients: "All the doctors just suddenly go". 2002. PMID: 11851581

  57. Lo B, Ruston D, Kates LW, Arnold RM, Cohen CB, Faber-Langendoen K, Pantilat SZ, Puchalski CM, Quill TR, Rabow MW, Schreiber S, Sulmasy DP, Tulsky JA. Discussing religious and spiritual issues at the end of life: a practical guide for physicians. 2002. PMID: 11851542

  58. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. Deficiencies in end-of-life care content in medical textbooks. 2002. PMID: 12028230

  59. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. End-of-life care content in textbooks. 2001. PMID: 11729042

  60. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. End-of-life care. 2001. PMID: 11589215

  61. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. End-of-life literature. 2001. PMID: 11591600

  62. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. Promoting end-of-life content in cardiology and other textbooks. 2001. PMID: 11548738

  63. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. End-of-life care. 2001. PMID: 11504996

  64. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. Patients' needs at the end of life. 2001. PMID: 11481370

  65. Anderson J, Baum M, Bero LA, Chalmers I, Chapman S, Deary IJ, Ebrahim S, Evans M, Farrell M, Greaves D, Higginson I, Hippisley-Cox J, James B, McKenzie H, Macaulay AC, Rabow M, Smyth RL, Stores G, Wolpert L. Music to be born to, music to die to. 2000. PMID: 11124186

  66. McPhee SJ, Rabow MW, Pantilat SZ, Markowitz AJ, Winker MA. Finding our way--perspectives on care at the close of life. 2000. PMID: 11074784

  67. Rabow MW, Fair JM, Hardie GE, McPhee SJ. An evaluation of the end-of-life care content in leading neurology textbooks. 2000. PMID: 10994022

  68. Rabow MW, Hardie GE, Fair JM, McPhee SJ. End-of-life care content in 50 textbooks from multiple specialties. 2000. PMID: 10683056

  69. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ. Beyond breaking bad news: how to help patients who suffer. 1999. PMID: 10578682

  70. Rabow MW, McPhee SJ, Fair JM, Hardie GE. A failing grade for end-of-life content in textbooks: what is to be done? 1999. PMID: 15859811

  71. Rabow MW. The head of his bed. 1997. PMID: 18751075