CompassionThe Essence of Palliative and End-of-Life Care

CompassionThe Essence of Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Philip J. Larkin

Print publication date: Oct 2015

ISBN: 9780198703310

Publisher: Oxford University Press


Compassion is a complex and multifaceted concept that has been explored from a range of cultural, philosophical, theological, and sociological perspectives. It can be considered a prerequisite for optimal health care, an expectation of the general public from their health care system, and a specific approach to care which should underpin the work of health care professionals globally. Given the nature of life-limiting illness and the challenges that shifting goals of care impose, the place of compassion as the underlying construct governing health care decisions would seem paramount. Yet there is an increasing concern-particularly in the UK media and recent reviews of clinical practices around end-of-life care-suggesting that somehow compassion has been lost as a governing principle of care giving. The reasons for this are not always clear, but increased clinical intervention, the over-professionalization of care, and lack of formal teaching on the topic of compassion are all indicated. Given the complex nature of care in advanced illness and life-limiting disease, the place of compassion within palliative and end-of-life care is worthy of further exploration to try to understand this phenomenon better. This book asks an international panel of expert palliative care practitioners to consider these issues for themselves and the discipline as we move into the 21st century. Through a series of interviews with some of the world’s experts in the field, the meaning, purpose, and outcome of providing compassionate care for palliative and end-of-life care is explored and critiqued. A critical commentary of themes raised by each contributor is discussed relative to the broader literature around the topic, and further reading and learning resources indicated for practitioners, educators, and students to follow up.