Article

Palliative Care

Shirley Otis-Green

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0158
Palliative Care

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Palliative care is an emerging medical field characterized by attention to the improvement of quality of life and function for those with serious or progressive illness. It is an inherently interdisciplinary field dedicated to the relief of suffering (whether physical, social, psychological, or spiritual in nature), with a holistic, person-centered, and family-focused perspective, and attentive to cultural diversity and the value of relationship as a prerequisite to empathic communication. Palliative care has a systems perspective—recognizing the interconnectedness of the patient, family, and community. Primary palliative care interventions include providing emotional support, counseling, care planning, and family conferencing. Palliative care is essential at times of transition, such as when there are changes in treatment, prognosis, or setting. Although not limited to those facing end of life, palliative care is especially vital during this time of increased vulnerability. Palliative care is a broad philosophical approach to care that includes hospice and bereavement care, and it should be delivered concurrently with treatment for advanced illness. As the population ages and the current health care system becomes ever more costly, the philosophical foundation of palliative care is increasingly viewed as offering an alternative approach to the current fragmented and bureaucratic US medical model. Palliative care providers seek to expand access to personalized, quality care and create a more just and sustainable health system. All of these factors make palliative care a natural fit for social work. Palliative social workers are involved in all aspects of the expanding field of palliative care—as clinicians, educators, researchers, and policymakers—where they contribute their systems expertise and advocate for improved delivery of care. Many of the publications reviewed in this bibliography stem from work supported in part by the Social Work Leadership Development Awards, funded by the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, whose leaders have been especially prolific and have made great progress in moving the field forward.

Article.  4497 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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