2010; Volume 11, No 5, May

Roger Woodruff, MD


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Palliative Care Book of the Month and Other Reviews


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Palliative Care Books of the Month and other Book Reviews

Palliative Care Book of the Month


M. Watson, C. Lucas, A. Hoy and J. Wells

Oxford University Press, 2009
1035 pp
ISBN 978-0-19-923435-6
RRP $US49.95 £27.95

The first thing that you notice about this second edition of the Oxford Handbook is that it is substantially larger, being more than 200 pages longer than the first edition.  The coverage remains comprehensive, which has been revised and updated, and there is increased attention on the palliation of patients with non-malignant disease and on the nursing aspects of palliative care. 

This little book is packed with practical information and will be useful to anybody who works in hospice and palliative care.  It can also be recommended as a comprehensive practical guide to those who have to deal with palliative care problems on an infrequent basis.  It certainly deserves a place on the resident’s or nurse unit manager’s desk in any hospice or palliative care unit.

Roger Woodruff (Australia), an IAHPC Board Member
(April 2010)

Book reviews


Robert C. Atchley

Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009
199 pp
ISBN 978-0-8018-9119-9
RRP $US45.00 £23.50

Review copy supplied by Footprint Books  www.footprint.com.au

Written by an emeritus professor of gerontology, this book is about what spirituality is, why it is important, and how spirituality influences the experience of aging and vice-versa.  Atchley believes that gerontology has lagged far behind its target population in understanding the importance of spirituality for aging people.  The first section is about spiritual experience and development and its importance.  The second is titled ‘Spiritual Journeying’, and the last section details the influence and importance of spirituality in later adulthood.  I enjoyed the last chapter, Spirituality and the Experience of Dying and Death.  This is a thought-provoking book for those of us who work in palliative care, where many of our patients are elderly.


Engaging one’s self through art modalities

Kathy Luethje (Ed)

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009
464 pp + CD ROM
ISBN 978-1-4438-0209-3
RRP $US74.99 £49.99

This is a collection of forty essays presenting a variety of perspectives on the use of expressive arts for facilitating physical and emotional healing.  Music (I liked the chapter on drumming), visual arts, movement, dance and poetry are discussed as separate modalities and in combination with one another.  The breadth and diversity of the topics covered is impressive.  If your institution has an arts program or a Wellness Center, this book should be on the shelf.  If you have an artistic bent and are into your own health and wellness, then perhaps this book is for you.


Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude and Courage at the end-of-life

Stan Goldberg

Trumpeter Books (Shambhala Publications), 2009
208 pp
ISBN 978-1-059030-676-5
RRP $US19.95 £18.99

Stan Goldberg, a language/speech pathologist for more than 30 years, is suddenly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.  So, what does he do?  He searches for information, reads all the self-help manuals, attends support groups?  Yes, but without satisfaction.  Instead, he trains to become a hospice volunteer. 

This is a very insightful collection of stories of his experiences, reflecting on matters such as forgiveness, letting go, giving, and compassion.  As the medieval adage said, ‘Learn to die and you shall live’, this book is all about what we can learn from people facing a terminal illness.  It is made more interesting by Goldberg’s reflections on the way in which hospice work has changed his former persona.  I particularly liked his description of the ‘attitude adjustments’ that he went through in training.  He describes hospice as an ‘intensive learning environment’, where the lessons he has learnt have been nothing less then transformative.  This book will be an enjoyable read for anyone who works in hospice and palliative care and a useful, non-threatening book for those outside the trade who want to know a little bit more about hospice work.


An Approach for Structured and Sensitive Communication

Dodie Graves

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009
203 pp
ISBN 978-1-84310-988-4
RRP $US29.95 £17.99

Review copy supplied by Footprint Books www.footprint.com.au

Written by an experienced counsellor, this book sets out the basic elements of helping bereaved people.  It’s about good active listening, empathic exploration and a willingness to talk about the hard issues.  The six elements—there is a story, there is a relationship, there is a life to celebrate, there is a legacy left behind, there is a strategy for coping, and there is a journey undertaken—are each described in a practical ‘hands-on’ way that may be of benefit to the bereaved; there is also a lot of practical information about what not to do, and why.  This book will be useful for social workers, nurses and other health care professionals who deal with bereaved people.  I think it will be particularly useful for teaching volunteer bereavement workers who may have no formal medical or nursing training.


Reflecting on Death to Find Your Life’s Meaning

Edward W. Bastian and Tina L. Staley

Sounds True, 2009
313 pp
ISBN 978-1-59179-701-2
RRP £22.00, $US24.95

The editors of this volume are a Buddhist scholar and teacher (EB) and a social worker from Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center (TS).  The first part of the book is a dialogue between a number of leading spiritual teachers, scientists and social workers concerning the spiritual, medical, scientific and psychological aspects of dying.  The participants include Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Joan Hallifax Roshi, Dr. Ira Byock, Mirabai Starr, Dr. Marilyn M. Schlitz, and Tessa Bielecki.  The second part of the book is a collection of resources including guided meditations, life-review practices, affirmations, and reflections.  On an intellectual level, I do not have problems with what they are recommending.  But on a practical level, I don’t know what would have to be done to introduce these ideas to the ordinary folk who make up the majority of our societies.


Roger Woodruff (Australia), an IAHPC Board Member
(April 2010)

Dr. Woodruff is an IAHPC Board Member. For more information go to: http://www.hospicecare.com/Bio/r_woodruff.htm

View over 100+ IAHPC hospice & palliative care book reviews

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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