Improving palliative care

Palliative care clinicians are increasingly faced with the problem of treating a wider range of diseases, and treating patients in all settings, not just in hospices or specialist units. This has created new challenges in the treatment of symptoms, which in turn creates a need for new research and practical recommendations to help palliative care clinicians and improve patient care.

A special issue of Progress in Palliative Care, volume 16 number 1, is devoted to Difficult Problems in Palliative Care, featuring papers from some of the field’s most respected clinicians in palliative care and other specialities.

The articles are ‘state of the art’ reviews, with a practical focus, of specific topics of acknowledged difficulty, by authors who are leaders and active researchers in their field. In addition, there are two ‘Top Ten Tips’ on the complex, important subjects of ‘neuropathic incident pain’ and ‘wounds’. These are a new feature which can act both as a clinical checklist in the clinic or at the bedside and as an aide mémoire for those trying to improve or review their knowledge on the subject.


  • Top ten tips for assessing and treating difficult wounds, Diane Laverty
  • Top ten tips for treating neuropathic incident pain, Robert D Searle and Michael Bennett
  • The management of neuropathic pain in cancer, Robert D Searle and Michael Bennett
  • Pharmacological management of breathlessness in advanced disease, Amy P Abernethy, Hope E Uronis, Jane L Wheeler, and David C Currow
  • Management of xerostomia and salivary hypofunction, A M Hegarty and T A Hodgson
  • Cough in palliative care, Hosnieh Fathi and Alyn H Morice
  • The management of family conflict in palliative care, Wendy G Lichtenthal and David W Kissane
  • The management of anxiety in advanced disease, Mari Lloyd-Williams and John G Hughes
  • Palliative sedation for the relief of refractory physical symptoms, Nathan I Cherny

The issue is guest edited by Dr Sara Booth, Macmillan Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Lead Clinician at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Dr Booth highlights the importance of this special issue to the palliative medicine community:

“Symptom control remains the cornerstone of palliative medicine. Effective pain control is a key factor in winning the confidence of both the patients and their families. With a wider range of patients and more complex cases to treat than forty or fifty years ago, it is vital that palliative care professionals are seen to make advances in symptom control, and don’t just rely on the same old knowledge and treatments. This issue of Progress in Palliative Care deals with some common problems from unusual angles, and features exciting new research from the field’s most eminent clinicians.”

Dr Booth’s editorial is free to download online at where the table of contents and abstracts can also be viewed.

Maney Publishing purchased Progress in Palliative Care from Leeds Medical Information early in 2008, when it also gained a new Editor-in-Chief, Professor Mellar Davis from the Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA. Professor Davis’ interests include pain management, cancer pain, palliative medicine, symptom control, supportive cancer care, cancer-related fatigue, cancer anorexia and weight loss, and lung cancer.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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