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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steve Heilig, MPH (San Francisco Medical Society)
Description: This book collects 27 papers given at an international conference convened in Paris in 1996. A diverse faculty of scientists, clinicians, epidemiologists, ethicists, and political and religious representatives address the issue of the quality of life in patients being treated for cancer or HIV disease.
Purpose: The intent of the conference and the resulting book was to explore quality of life (QoL) as a new measuring tool for assessing the results of medical therapies for these conditions as well as for understanding the social factors important in patient's lives. The important recognition here is that treatment of physical and other forms of pain is often inadequate, and that heretofore nonquantifiable factors contributing to patients' overall well-being are often neglected.
Audience: The authors address this basic problem from various angles, including research, clinical, ethical, and political perspectives. Readers in any of these disciplines with an interest in this topic will find new concepts presented here.
Features: The opening section features attempts to define and measure QoL, with specific applications to cancer and HIV. Perspectives range from basic science to economic concerns. Further commentary explores QoL issues in palliative care, socioeconomic issues, problems in the developing world, and pharmaceutical considerations. The authors are some of the leading figures in their respective fields from around the world. Their contributions here are marked by brevity and authority, even where there are conflicting perspectives presented on a particular topic.
Assessment: The papers collected in this book represent the first comprehensive overview of QoL as a potentially measurable indicator of the true success or failure of medical care for cancer and HIV disease. Although the information presented is unlikely to be of immediate clinical application at this time, the perspectives are crucially important in raising awareness of issues heretofore viewed as having secondary clinical relevance. Sophisticated readers with some background and interest in medical ethics, cancer, and AIDS will find some stimulating ideas presented here.