Understanding patient and family: holistic assessment in palliative care

Br J Community Nurs. 2005 Jul;10(7):318-22. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2005.10.7.18327.


Symptom relief in palliative care is dependent on the nurse undertaking a holistic general and symptom assessment and integrating these findings into a logical plan of care that can be evaluated against a set of negotiated goals. This article outlines the nature of the holistic assessment and how the establishment and maintenance of the therapeutic relationship can help the nurse to relieve distress, restore hope and enable the patient and family to achieve a good quality of life. Careful attention to the fundamentals of nursing practice, coupled with effective communication, will be shown to enhance the prospect of the patient, their family and the nurse feeling valued and enriched by encounters associated with symptom relief.

MeSH terms

  • Family / psychology
  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Nursing Assessment*
  • Palliative Care*