New Themes in Palliative Care

New Themes in Palliative Care

New Themes in Palliative Care

New Themes in Palliative Care


Palliative care is moving through an important period of expansion and development, spreading beyond its original hospice base to encompass care in the community, in hospitals, health centres, clinics and nursing homes. It can now be found in over 70 countries of the world. What challenges does this multidisciplinary speciality face as it seeks to combine high grade pain and symptom control with sensitive psychological, spiritual and social care? What are the implications of current constraints on health policy and planning? How do ethical issues about resource allocation and end of life care impinge? Can palliative care be further extended to include conditions other than cancer?

New Themes in Palliative Care addresses these and many related issues in ways which will be readily accessible to students of health and social care as well as to those involved in purchasing or providing palliative care services, and to social scientists interested in chronic illness, death and dying. Its editors are respected experts in the field with backgrounds in the social sciences, nursing and medicine and the book's contributors include leading international figures from a wide range of palliative care and academic disciplines.


The rapid expansion of interest in cancer and palliative care has become a significant feature of health care development in recent times. Within only a few decades the care and treatment of people with cancer has been subject to wide-reaching and rapid change, much of it driven by advances in biomedical science. Increasingly, however, enthusiasm for aggressive, curative treatments has been tempered by a growing awareness of and interest in the psychosocial aspects of cancer, linked to an understanding of the place of the disease within late modern culture, or what Frank (1995) calls 'remission society'. At the same time, the progress made by hospices and the emerging specialty of palliative care has thrown into relief the plight of people with other chronic, life-limiting illnesses who might also benefit from a similar approach. in a period of such rapid development in palliative care it is important therefore to have informed commentary which can stimulate policy making, practice innovation and related research.

Palliative care is an exciting field in which to be involved and one surrounded by many challenges. in part this is a specialty which gets to the very limits of medicine, dealing with some of the sickest people in society and facing the personal, social and societal implications of human mortality. Within it lies the possibility of understanding individual suffering inside a wider cultural, spiritual and structural context. Palliative care must therefore grapple with questions about the meaning of illness and the narratives which might accompany it, as well as the ways in which these are differentiated within specific groups in society. Listening to the voices of sick people and their carers is an important feature of this and has a high priority within clinical practice, in service planning and in research.

Palliative care also faces challenges relating to service organization as it . . .

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