2011; Volume 12, No 04, April

Roger Woodruff, MD

15th Anniversary Issue

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Regional Reports: Thailand, Bangladesh, UK and US

Palliative Care Book of the Month and Other Reviews

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Palliative Care Book of the Month and other Reviews

Palliative Care Book of the Month

Relearning the World

Thomas Attig

Oxford University Press, 2011
202 pp
ISBN 978-0-19-539769-7
RRP $US26.95 £17.99

I found this book refreshing. It challenges the stages and phases of grief and bereavement that we have grown up with and presents a different view that I found very alive and very non-clinical/medical. Attig, described as an applied philosopher, uses a number of vignettes and talks about the process of relearning the world and ourselves and our relationships. He draws us away from stereotypes and describes the responses and reactions (and hence our response to them) in a highly individualised manner that incorporates just about everything in the person’s history and spirituality. If you have much to do with grief and bereavement, you will find much in this book that is useful and interesting, and I think you will enjoy reading it.

Roger Woodruff
(March 2011)


Other Reviews


Mellar Davis, Petra Feyer, Petra Ortner, Camilla Zimmermann (Eds)

Elsevier, 2011
655 pp (plus internet resources)
ISBN 978-1-4377-1015-1
RRP $US149.00 £96.00

This book is intended to be a comprehensive resource for those who work in oncology, to provide information and guidance on the management of physical and psychosocial symptoms throughout the disease trajectory—from diagnosis to grief and bereavement, or to survivorship. It is divided into six sections—management of treatment-related adverse effects, management of tumour-related symptoms, management of complications in the palliative setting, rehabilitation and survivorship, communication and decision making, and psychosocial oncology. There is an absolute wealth of information presented here, well-referenced and well set-out. However, there were a few instances where I wondered whether the detail suffered a bit as they tried to cover such a broad field. For example, there is a list of the agencies and organizations that endorse the use of low molecular weight heparin for the prevention of venous thrombosis, but no mention about the dose. I wondered what the latest information was regarding the use of low molecular weight heparin in terminally ill cancer patients in a palliative care unit, but didn’t find it. Discussing psycho-oncology, covering all aspects of the disease trajectory, in a hundred pages or so is a big (if not impossible) task. I found no reference to suicide, whether self-inflicted or physician-assisted.

The other attractions of this book are the electronic features. Purchasers may register on-line and have access to an electronically searchable full text. This also means that you can access anything in the text, wherever you are, on your iPhone or iPad. For those of us that began our professional career in the pre-computer days, never mind before the advent of mobile phones, this sort of technology is little short of awesome. This accessibility is a big plus for this book.

I think this is a very worthy book although, like its predecessors, it may take another edition or two to find better balance. It is reasonably priced and would certainly be an asset on any palliative care unit with significant numbers of patients with cancer.


Acute confusional states in palliative medicine 2e

Augusto Caraceni and Luigi Grassi

Oxford University Press, 2011
275 pp
ISBN 978-0-19-957205-2
RRP £55.00 $US89.95

This second edition, following eight years after the first, presents an up-dated detailed review of all aspects of delirium seen in palliative medicine. It adheres to a similar format with chapters on definitions and nomenclature, neuropathophysiology, incidence and prevalence, clinical features, diagnosis and differential diagnosis, and management. Of particular importance, I believe, is the chapter on family issues associated with delirium. There is a significant amount of new material reviewed, particularly in the sections on aetiopathogenesis and pharmacological management. As with its predecessor, I think this would be a useful book to have on the palliative care service bookshelf.


An Exploration of the Nature of Knowledge, Culture and Ethics

Jennifer Philip

Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010
ISBN 987-3-8383-2319-0
RRP £70.00 $US107.00

This doctoral thesis (by one of my colleagues in Melbourne) starts by describing the features that set palliative care apart from other forms of health care and presents an examination of it from a number of different angles including philosophy, sociology, clinical practice, ethics and psychology. My review copy was a PDF file, which might be regarded as convenient and efficient, but I have to admit that I find it difficult to judge the whole of a work unless I can dip and browse. A little on the expensive side, this book will be of interest to anybody thinking about what the multifaceted heart of palliative care really is.

Dr. Roger Woodruff (Australia). Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime member of the IAHPC board and his bio may be found at http://www.hospicecare.com/Bio/r_woodruff.htm

Reviews by Dr.Roger Woodruff – March 2011

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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