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10 books on palliative medicine and end-of-life care [reading list]

The demand for end-of-life care is growing with an ageing population. Each year an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care, 78% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. In children, this increases to 98%. With the EAPC 17th World Congress Online starting on 6 October, and World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 9 October, this reading list of recent titles can help you to reflect on palliative medicine as a public health need.

What’s in the Syringe?: Principles of Early Integrated Palliative Care by Juliet Jacobsen, Vicki Jackson, Joseph Greer, and Jennifer Temel

What’s in the Syringe? teaches clinicians how to help patients live well and acknowledge the ends of their lives. It explores how patients can develop prognostic awareness, confront their hopes and worries, and see themselves with clarity and empathy. As patients use these skills, they improve their quality of life, helping them make informed medical and personal decisions as they approach end of life. 

Read: What’s in the Syringe? Principles of Early Integrated Palliative Care

Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine (6th ed.) edited by Nathan I. Cherny, Marie T. Fallon, Stein Kaasa, Russell K. Portenoy, and David C. Currow

The sixth edition of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine takes us into the third decade of this definitive award-winning textbook. This comprehensive book covers all-new and emerging topics, updated to reflect major developments in the field. It covers the multi-disciplinary nature of palliative care, from ethical and communication issues, to the treatment of symptoms, and the management of pain. Plus, purchasers will get free online access for five years!

Read: Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine (6th ed.)

The Nell Dialogues: Conversation in Mortal Time by Richard P. McQuellon

Nell M. came to her therapist with an unusual problem. She was disappointed that her metastatic breast cancer was not progressing as predicted. She had hoped breast cancer would lead to death, preventing her from witnessing her spouse’s mental deterioration from Alzheimer’s disease. The Nell Dialogues: Conversation in Mortal Time consists of twelve of Nell’s illness narratives that explore the challenges of managing the physical and emotional demands of cancer, relationship issues with family and health care professionals, and disturbing, anxiety-provoking thoughts as well as the mourning that accompanies the end of life.

Read: The Nell Dialogues: Conversation in Mortal Time

The Art and Science of Compassion, A Primer: Reflections of a Physician-Chaplain by Agnes M.F. Wong

Compassion is an essential skill for those working in palliative medicine. Drawing on her diverse background as a clinician, scientist, educator, and chaplain, author Agnes M.F. Wong presents evidence that compassion is both innate and trainable. The training described helps individuals to develop cognitive, attentional, affective, and somatic skills that are critical for the cultivation of compassion. This book also contains striking illustrations to demonstrate key concepts.

Read: The Art and Science of Compassion, A Primer: Reflections of a Physician-Chaplain

Palliative Medicine: A Case-Based Manual (4th ed.) edited by Susan MacDonald, Leonie Herx, and Anne Boyle

Palliative Medicine: A Case-Based Manual is an accessible and practical guide to providing high quality palliative and end-of-life care for patients and their families. It walks through the management of the most common situations found in palliative medicine, from diagnosis and managing symptoms through to grief and bereavement, using real patient case scenarios.

Read: Palliative Medicine: A Case-Based Manual (4th ed.)

Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers by Gary Rodin and Sarah Hales

Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully, also known by the acronym CALM, is a brief supportive-expressive intervention that can be delivered by a wide range of trained healthcare providers as part of cancer care or early palliative care. This can help patients and families living with advanced cancer to live meaningfully, while also facing the threat of mortality.

Read: Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers

Reflecting on the Inevitable: Mortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy, and Health by Peter J. Adams 

Death studies have, over the last twenty years, witnessed a flourishing of research and scholarship particularly in areas such as dying and bereavement, cultural practices, and fear of dying. But, despite its importance, a specific focus on the nature of personal mortality has attracted surprisingly little attention. This book focuses on the challenge of thinking and talking about one’s death and explores practical ways that engagement with one’s own death can be incorporated into daily life.

Read: Reflecting on the Inevitable: Mortality at the Crossroads of Psychology, Philosophy, and Health

Caring for the Family Caregiver by Elaine Wittenberg, Joy Goldsmith, Sandra L. Ragan, and Terri Ann Parnell 

Family caregivers in chronic illness face high cost and poorly addressed needs. Caring for the Family Caregiver explores the four profiles of caregivers: the Manager, Carrier, Partner, and Lone caregiver. These care styles emerge from family systems with different patterns of conversational sharing and expectations of conformity. In this book, the authors deliver an unflinching gaze at the journey of the caregiver, through the lens of communication.

Read: Caring for the Family Caregiver

Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children (3rd ed.) edited by Richard Hain, Ann Goldman, Adam Rapoport, and Michelle Meiring 

The third edition of Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children identifies the medical, psychological, practical, and spiritual issues of caring for terminally ill children and their families. Comprehensive in scope, exhaustive in detail, and definitive in authority, this new edition has been thoroughly updated to cover new practices, current epidemiological data, and the evolving models that support the delivery of palliative medicine to children.

Read: Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children (3rd ed.)

Palliative and Serious Illness Patient Management for Physician Assistants edited by Nadya Dimitrov and Kathy Kemle

The first resource of its kind, Palliative and Serious Illness Patient Management for Physician Assistants provides a fundamental framework for physician assistants and physician associates to incorporate palliative care medicine, including end-of-life care, into their practice.

Read: Palliative and Serious Illness Patient Management for Physician Assistants

Explore our other titles in Palliative Medicine. 

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