2008; Volume 9, No 5, May

Roger Woodruff, MD


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Hospice Palliative Care Book Reviews &
The Palliative Care Book of the Month

Roger Woodruff, MD

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Book of the Month

The Dying Mind

Sandy Macleod
Radcliffe Publishing, 2007
168 pp
ISBN 978-1-84619-92-6
RRP £24.95, $US49.95

Sandy Macleod is a consultant psychiatrist from New Zealand who has long had an interest in palliative medicine.  Unfortunately, most of us who work in palliative care do not have the luxury of having someone like him to call upon.  This book is a distillation of his knowledge and experience, written for those of us who have little formal training in psychiatry.  It is clinically practical in approach and largely free of psychiatric jargon.  This would be a most useful book to have to refer to, and I think it deserves a place on the library shelf of any palliative care ward or service.

Roger Woodruff
Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia
(April 2008)

Book Reviews

PALLIATIVE CARE: A Practical Guide for the Health Professional
Finding meaning and purpose in life and death

Kathryn M. Boog and Claire Y. Tester
Churchill Livingstone, 2008
211 pp
ISBN 978-0-443-10380-3
RRP £25.99, $US53.95, $AUD79.00
Review copy supplied by Elsevier Australia www.shop.elsevier.com.au

This book makes you sit up and take notice.  In the Foreword, Dr. Harvey Chochinov notes ‘Contemporary palliative care is often stymied in the face of existential, spiritual and psychological angst that can accompany patients nearing death.  Boog and Tester challenge professionals to reconceptualise their practice by offering insights into different and creative ways of approaching given situations…’.

The first section of the book explores the impact of dying and death.  The second deals with creative interventions from counselling to creativity to play and leisure to relaxation, and the importance of narrative.  These chapters are clinically practical and a number of appendices contain detail about how to do it.  The last section of the book is about how to survive as staff.

Written by two occupational therapists from Scotland, this book would be helpful to any member of the multidisciplinary team.  It also has the advantage that it deals with terminal illness across the complete age spectrum—from babies to adults.


Quotations for Living, Dying & Letting Go

Gail Perry Johnston and Jill Perry Rabideau
Cupola Press, 2007
161 pp
ISBN 978-0-9793345-0-4
RRP $US12.50, £6.25

This is a collection of quotations – Biblical, classical and contemporary – to help people facing a terminal illness and those close to them.  Some profound, some humorous, there is much to ponder and reflect on.  I thoroughly enjoyed dipping in to it and I think it would be a great support for those to whom it is directed.  As I leafed through it, I couldn’t help recalling Dame Cicely’s words ‘..we will do all we can to help you not only die peacefully, but also to live until you die.



Edzard Ernst, Max Pittler, Barbara Wider, Kate Boddy (Eds)
Oxford University Press, 2008
424 pp
ISBN 978-0-19-920677-3
RRP £29.95, $US59.95

This pocket-sized book is packed with information.  After some general introduction, the first main section is an A-Z of complementary therapies, from acupuncture to yoga.  The second section gives details of complementary medicines, from African plum to yohimbe.  The last section deals with the use of complementary therapies in various conditions from cardiology to urology. 

The information is well set out.  After describing the therapy, there is section called ‘Clinical bottom line’, which lists the conditions in which it is likely to be effective, ineffective, or the effectiveness is unknown.  This is followed by a brief list of conclusions.

The brevity of style makes the book user-friendly, but I wondered whether there was a downside: making brief and/or dogmatic statements about contentious clinical issues is difficult.  For example, ‘black cohosh…is likely to be effective for treating menopausal hot flushes…’, with a reference to a review in the American Family Physician.  But no mention is made of the phase III double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial that was published in the same year and which showed no benefit. 

For an informative snap-shot of the various therapies and medicines being used, this book provides clear concise descriptions that would be very helpful when patients tell you they are using complementary medicines you have never heard of.  But, as noted above, I felt I wanted to know a little more about the evidence base for their conclusions.



Henry J. McQuay, EijaKalso, R. Andrew Moore (Eds)
IASP, 2008
ISBN 978 0 931092 69 5
RRP $US 70.00

This volume provides detailed insight into the methodological science of systematic reviews, meta-analyses and clinical trials of treatment for pain. The book is written by members of a group known as the International Collaboration on Evidence-Based Critical Care, Anaesthesia and Pain (ICECAP), working in collaboration with the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). The book is divided into five sections: Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, Acute Pain, Chronic Pain, Cancer Pain, and From Evidence to Practice. Anyone with an interest in the continually evolving methodological issues and how we should interpret the results of reviews and trials in clinical practice will enjoy this book.



Rose Kaszycki and Juanita Liepelt
RealityIs Books, 2007
64 pp
RRP $US12.95, £3.30

This little book is for caregivers.  It is written by two sisters who cared for their father when he had terminal cancer; his dying revealed their mother’s dementia.  Each page has a meaningful Quotation, a related Thought for the day, and a personal Reflection.  For anyone caring for a dying loved one, this book would help them maintain perspective, and remember that caregivers need care as well.


A Journey with Grace

Sally Sue Tittle
Wing and A Prayer Press, 2006
230 pp
ISBN 978-0-9774050-0-8
RRP $US15.00

This is a journal of the terminal illness of Sally Tittle who had the indignity of having both cancer of the throat and pancreatic cancer.  She was looked after by her daughter, Sue, who was a nurse but was also battling end-stage pulmonary fibrosis.  The journal is constructed from e-mails written by Sue to friends and family.  I thought that it contained some insightful observations and reflections.

Roger Woodruff
Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia
(April 2008)

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