2009; Volume 10, No 1, January

Roger Woodruff, MD


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Palliative Care Book of the Month


Gillie Bolton (Ed)
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008
216 pp
ISBN 978 1 84310 516 9
RRP $AU54.95, £19.99, $US29.95
Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

The arts, in whatever form, embody human expression and such expression can never be more important than in the palliative care setting.  Written by artists, health care professionals, patients and relatives, this book includes descriptions of a wide range of arts and their use in the health care setting.  It is descriptive and not prescriptive.  Sometimes intended to be therapeutic, at other times to facilitate a person’s self-expression and insight.  Bolton acknowledges the under-representation of the non-verbal arts, something I felt could have been partly redressed with chapters comprising illustrations with brief annotation.

This book is about seeing our patients as unique individuals and ways to help them express their individuality.  Put another way, it is about putting some genuine holism, so often missing in the hurly-burly of day-to-day clinical care, back into palliative care.  The editorial in this week’s The Lancet uses the term cattle-market to describe NHS care and concludes: ‘The NHS is getting better at treatment and that is welcome.  It has a long way to go before it is good at care.’  Implementing some of the care described in this book would be a big step in the right direction.

Roger Woodruff
(December, 2008)

Book Reviews

in therapeutic strategies

Gary H. Lyman and Jeffrey Crawford (Eds)
Informa Health Care, 2008
395 pp
ISBN 978 1 4200 5289 3
RRP $US269.95, £130.00

This book reviews the major topics in cancer supportive care including quality of life, cancer related fatigue, the management of infections, anticoagulation for venous thrombosis, bisphosphonate therapy, and the management of pain, psychological symptoms and end-of-life care.  The list of contributors is impressive and the reviews are written in an authoritative manner with attention to the evidence-base.  Written primarily for haematologists and oncologists, I think that this book would be a worthy addition to the library shelf of any palliative care service involved with significant numbers of patients with advanced cancer. As with some other titles from Informa, it is definitely on the expensive side.

Decision cases for advance practice

Terry A. Wolfer and Vicki M. Runnion (Eds)
Columbia University Press, 2008
ISBN 978 0 231 14175 8
RRP $US29.50, £17.50

This is the latest in Columbia University Press’ series on End-of-Life Care.  It comprises 23 very challenging case scenarios that end unresolved, at a point when a practising social worker would have to carefully evaluate the issues before making decisions.  Written for advanced courses in social work, the instructors have access to additional teaching notes on the CUP website.  Although written for social workers, I think this book would be a valuable teaching aid for any of the health care professions involved in the palliative care team.


Mmapheko Doriccah Peu (Ed)
Van Schaik Publishers, 2008
ISBN 978 0 627 02564 8
RRP R 199 (£13.80, $US 20.40, approx.)
Available at www.vanschaiknet.com

In South Africa, millions of people are affected with HIV/AIDS, cancer and tuberculosis and the availability of resources is such that providing care and support for these patients and their families in their own homes is a necessity.  Here is how they go about doing it.  A real eye-opener for those of us who work in affluent societies and an invaluable resource for those trying to develop palliative care services in resource-poor environments.



John Rybicki
Northwestern University Press, 2008
79 pp
ISBN 978-0-8101-5186-4
RRP $US13.95, £11.95

If you appreciate poetry, here is a collection of verse that is rich with imagery of family, love, illness and death.  And the water?  It seeps in throughout the pages as rivers, pools, rain and tears.  Far be it from me to judge the poetry, but I have to admit I found some of his lines riveting.

A Practical Guide to Using Counselling Skills in Palliative Care

Louis Heyse-Moore
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008
ISBN 978-1-84310-646-3
RRP $AU48.95, £17.99, $US34.95
Review copy supplied by Footprint Books <www.footprint.com.au>

This is a very practical guide to counselling in the palliative care setting.  It is clearly written and well set out and the experience of the author as a trained counsellor and palliative medicine specialist shines through.  The first part of the book is about fundamental counselling skills – Terminology, Meeting, Attending Skills, Core Counselling Skills, and Psychological Approaches.  The second half of the book is about palliative care issues – Breaking Bad News, Working with Emotions, Euthanasia, Family Matters, Spiritual Distress, the Sick Psyche, and Staff Support.  I think this would be a most useful text for anyone training to work in the palliative care field and I think there is something here for those of us who have been around for a while to reflect on and brush up our skills.

Being around, being there, being wise

Heather Smith and Mark K. Smith
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008
175 pp
ISBN 978-1-84310-638-8
RRP $AU46.95, £16.99, $US29.95
Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

This book is not specifically about palliative care but I think may have something to offer those who work in the field.  It examines the qualities of those special individuals to whom people turn for learning and counsel.  The chapters take you through Living Life Well, Knowing and Being Ourselves, Being Wise, Relating to Others, Working to Make Change Possible, Deepening Our Practice and Getting There.  Whilst not written about palliative care, the fundamental principles in this book have a lot to do with it.  

Understanding a child’s journey through loss

Janis A. Di Ciacco

 Jessica Kingsley Publications, 2008
174 pp
ISBN 978 1 84310 886 3
RRP $AU38.95, £12.99, $US19.95
Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

This book explores strategies for supporting a grieving child to ensure a healthy passage into adulthood.  The confusing emotions experienced by a grieving child are likened to a prism of many colours, hence the title.  The first part of the book deals with the management of bereavement in general, the second deals with seven different age groups from toddler to late adolescent.  The author’s experience shines through and I think this book would be useful to both health care professionals and parents who are involved with a grieving child.


Julia Sorensen

Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2008
140 pp
ISBN 978 1 84310 464 3
RRP $AU53.95, £19.99, $US35.00
Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

This book is directed any anyone involved with grieving children between the ages of 4 and 8.  It looks very practical and includes a series of activities and stories to help the children better express themselves and understand their emotions.

Finding hope in facing death

Georgia Lang Weithe

Reflections Press, 2008
ISBN 978 0 9790343 1 2
RRP $US15.95, £10.70

This is the story of a daughter and the father she loves who is dying.  It discusses the importance of coming to terms with death and provides some insights into how to be emotionally supportive to the dying person. 

Roger Woodruff
(December, 2008)

Note for authors: If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send to:

Dr Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

Note: Review copies become property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only palliative care related books which are previously approved will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we can't provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.

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