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From The CriticsReviewer: Jeffrey Rado, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This is an attempt at a state-of-the-art review of psychiatry in the larger context of palliative care. It is a well-written compendium that addresses a wide variety of topics in end-of-life care.
Purpose: The goal is to promote a comprehensive vision of hospice and palliative care that addresses all facets of suffering. In doing so, it shows us how all members of the palliative care team (oncologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, internists, social workers, etc.) can make a huge impact on patients' quality of life by becoming more sensitive to the issues these patients face on a daily basis.
Audience: Although the authors do not clearly specify their audience, the book is written for practitioners in the field of palliative care medicine. It is not appropriate for medical students or more junior residents.
Features: Numerous psychiatric diagnoses are discussed, but communication with patients is the focus. However, the authors also spend considerable time discussing how to improve clinical interactions with family members as well. Psychotherapeutic issues that are particularly well addressed include spirituality, bereavement, dignity, and demoralization. Each chapter ends with a section on controversies and research opportunities which nicely explores the unanswered questions in the field. The book could have benefited from the use of more real-world case examples to illustrate the concepts being discussed.
Assessment: This is a well-organized, thoughtfully written book. The authors include many experts who work at the interface of psychiatry and palliative care. The book is clearly written and summarizes the current state of research in this ever expanding field of study. I would recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about psychiatry in end-of-life care or who is contemplating a career in this area.