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Connie Henke Yarbro, Margaret Hansen Frogge and Michelle Goodman (eds.). Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2004. 764 pp plus CD-ROM. ISBN 0-7637-2142-5. RRP $US 69.95, £38.50, $AU 114.

This is a comprehensive textbook of symptom management for nurses who work in oncology. As such it includes many of the issues we deal with in palliative care as well as topics relevant to the acute management of cancer patients. Each chapter has the same heading structure (The Problem, Etiology, Pathophysiology, Assessment, Symptom Management, Evaluation of Therapeutic Approaches), which makes the book much more user-friendly and reduces the unevenness sometimes found in multi-authored texts. Unique to this book are the patient self-care guides at the end of each chapter, developed to assist in teaching the patient and family how to provide care at home. These guides are also presented on a CD-ROM.

The need for standardized assessments and evidence-based practice is stressed throughout the book, for which the editors are to be congratulated.  However, the evidence base is limited and when I looked up my three favorite contentious issues the use of high dose dexamethasone for spinal cord compression, nebulised opioids for dyspnea, and St. Johnıs wort for depression there did not seem to be a critical appraisal of the information that is available.

Overall, I think this is an excellent book that is worthy of a place on the library shelf in any oncology or palliative care ward.  It is sufficiently well set out to be useful for rapid reference in the ward or clinic, but is a bit too big to be carried around.

Keri Thomas. Radcliffe Medical Press, 2003. 298 pp. ISBN 1-85775-946-X. RRP £27.95, $US 67.

How can general practitioners/family physicians and other health care professionals who work in the community improve the palliative care they are able to deliver to the people they serve?  Step One is to read this book.

This book is about the Macmillan Gold Standards Framework that is primarily patient-and community- centered, which is being rolled in the UK to improve the delivery of palliative care in the community.

This is an immensely practical book.  The Framework is divided into 7 Cs: Communication, Co-ordination, Control of symptoms, Continuity, Continued learning, Carer support, and Care of the dying.  Each of these is discussed under a series of headings 'Why?', 'What?', 'How/who/when?', and 'What if?'  The end result is a comprehensive and very practical guide as to how to go about improving the delivery of palliative care in your community. There are also chapters on pain and symptom control. I would recommend this book strongly to anybody developing, managing or upgrading community palliative care services.


Rachel Stanworth. Oxford University Press, 2004. 255 pp. ISBN 0-19-852511-7. RRP £24.95.

This book is based on detailed interviews with 25 patients at St. Christopher's Hospice. From these interviews, the author explores the meaning of human spirituality in those facing a terminal illness. She presents a non-religious 'language of the spirit', the major aspects of which are its context, its literary form, and its symbolic form.  She goes on to show how patients use this language, using a series of metaphors, to make statements about their situation and their spiritual needs. In the last section, there are some suggestions about how we as individuals should approach spirituality and spiritual care, but this is not a 'how to' book.

This book should be of particular interest to anybody who has a special interest in spirituality and spiritual care, especially those who provide pastoral care in the palliative care setting.

Social and Pastoral Perspectives
Bruce Rumbold (Ed). Oxford University Press, 2002. 233 pp. ISBN 019551352-5. RRP £14.95

Few would argue about the importance of spirituality and spiritual care in palliative care.  However, questions of what it means and how it should be done lead to a diverse range of views and opinions.  The various chapters in this book set out to make sense of this diversity.  The first part of the book reviews a range of theoretical perspectives and resources that assist in understanding spirituality.  The second part contains first-person accounts of both patients and carers.  The third part entitled 'Developing Responses', discusses how spiritual care may evolve.  The final part of the book draws the strands together and presents some guidelines for care.  The Guidelines alone are worth the cost of the book: they are clearly articulated in plain English, well reasoned and clinically practical.

This book should appeal to all who work in palliative care and will be of particular interest to pastoral care workers and others with a special interest in spiritual care.

OUR DAD DIED. The True Story of Three Kids Whose Lives Changed
107pp. ISBN 1-57542-135-6. RRP $US 9.95  £5

ISBN 1-57542-139-9. RRP $US8.95, £5

Amy, Allie and David Dennison. Free Spirit Publishing, 2003

'Our Dad Died' is the journal kept by three young children after their father's sudden and unexpected death. It would be a most useful resource for anyone trying to help young children with their bereavement following the loss of someone close.

The accompanying journal, 'My Life Changed', aims to encourage children to write about their loss. Each page contains a question or a quotation to stimulate the child to express his or her feelings. A very practical aid for grieving children.

Roger Woodruff
Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia

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