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When you're in the trenches making websites, especially for clients, it's easy to lose sight of the impact your work will have on the end user. Earlier this year, I got a reminder of that potential while building a tool for the Center for Research on End of Life Care. This center at Weill Cornell specializes in research medicine for those who are near the finish line of their journey due to terminal illness. This also applies to their caregivers, who face a host of serious challenges including making difficult decisions and then ultimately dealing with the loss.

The directors of the center, Dr. Holly Prigerson and Dr. Paul Maciejewski, have developed a scale to help those suffering from the loss of a loved one identify the intensity of their grief. Like many of the physicians at Weill Cornell, their work has been widely recognized, and this particular diagnostic tool was featured in a recent article in the New York Times. Our team was tasked with developing the scale into a web-based form that can be taken online, with the results returned back to the participant right away.

The scale was integrated as part of a new Drupal website, and has an interface for participants to provide their answers using custom sliders. The user is led through a series of questions that evaluate their symptoms and feelings. Once the form is submitted, the answers are run against an algorithm provided by the researchers and a grief "score" is given.

Grief Scale

While my concern might have been limited to the code-level, thinking things through in PHP, Javascript and CSS, it's helpful to remember the big picture that real people with real issues are interacting with our work on a daily basis. Particularly in this industry, there is a real possibility of delivering life-altering information, whether that is timely knowledge or just a successful call-to-action.

Grief Intensity Scale

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