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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Darrell A Owens, DNP (University of Washington School of Nursing)
Description: This reference for providers caring for people at the end of life addresses both hospice and palliative care issues and includes updates of the 2002 edition.
Purpose: The purpose is to offer solution-oriented coverage of real-world issues and challenges that arise daily for clinicians caring for people with life-limiting illnesses and conditions. This book is one of many recently published on the topic. Given the increasing age of the population, and the shortage of trained palliative care providers, the objectives are worthy.
Audience: The authors identify physicians and other clinicians as the audience, but the content does not support this statement. Throughout the book, the authors refer only to physicians when discussing directing care of the terminally ill, implying that only physicians perform certain tasks, such as prescribing medications and therapies and directing hospice care. There is no discussion or mention of the role of the nurse practitioner, a provider who in over 20 states practices independently, many in hospice and palliative care settings. The authors of the book are certainly credible authorities, but the title does not appropriately reflect that this is a book written primarily by physicians for physicians. A more appropriate title would be End-of-Life Care: A Practical Guide for Physicians.
Features: The book covers a range of topics included in the majority of hospice and palliative care references. The sections on pain and symptom management are basic but accurate and consistent with evidence-based practice. The sections on special populations and diversity are well written, and help to differentiate this book from others on the topic. The study/learning questions at the end of each chapter make this book an excellent resource for both faculty who wish to test knowledge, and individual learners who wish to assess their own learning. It is unfortunate that the book completely disregards the role of nurse practitioners in the care of patients at the end of life.
Assessment: The book is well written and easy to read. But for the questions at the end of each chapter, it is very similar to other books in the field. There are books with far greater detail that better represent the interdisciplinary nature of palliative care (versus the physician-dominated focus presented in this book). There are, however, books that lack the comprehensive nature of this one. If a reader found the first edition useful, then it is certainly worth replacing it with this update. Other readers are encouraged to explore the many books on care at the end of life, before making a selection and purchase suitable for their needs.