Changing perspectives on palliative care

Oncology (Williston Park). 2002 Apr;16(4):515-22; discussion 522-7.


In the United States, hospice and palliative care are two distinct expressions of the hospice interdisciplinary team approach to end-of-life care, which originated in Great Britain in the 1960s. The hospice movement developed largely as a home-care program and alternative to conventional care. Hospice regulations and reimbursement allowances limit services to patients who are expected to die within 6 months and who forego many common oncologic treatments. On the other hand, palliative care is a more recent academic, medically mainstream discipline that attempts to integrate the hospice approach into oncology and other areas of clinical medicine from the earliest phases of diagnosis and treatment. Palliative care entertains all appropriate forms of care at any phase of an illness. In this review, we describe the key goals of palliative care, which include excellent pain and symptom control, psychosocial and spiritual support for the patient and family, informed decision-making, and coordinated services across the continuum of care. We focus on selected recent developments that are important to oncology practice: the role of artificial nutrition; management of malignant small bowel obstruction; communication tasks, such as information sharing, recognition of patient preferences, advanced-care planning, and bereavement care; and ethical principles related to the hastening of death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Hospice Care / methods*
  • Hospice Care / trends
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / trends