International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

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IAHPC Hospice and Palliative Care Newsletter


2005; Volume 6, No 3, March


Book Reviews

Dr. Woodruff, MD

Note: The Table of Contents for each book reviewed is available in the Bookshop at

Many ways to help support palliative care.

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Message from the Chair & Executive Director:
Kathleen M. Foley, MD
Liliana De Lima, MHA

Article of the Month:
Dr. Ripamonti

Book Reviews:
Roger Woodruff, MD

Webmaster's Corner:
Anne Laidlaw

Editor's Notes:
Dr. William Farr

IAHPC Press:
Palliative Care in the Developing World: Principles and Practice

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CARING FOR THE DYING Critical issues at the edge of life

Robert M. Baird and Stuart E. Rosenbaum (Eds)
Prometheus Books, 2003
316 pp, ISBN 1-57392-969-7, RRP $US20, £10

More Info at

This is a collection of twenty-one essays reproduced from a variety of other medical journals, focusing on various aspects of palliative care. The first section deals with the hospice movement, including a comparison of the UK and USA . The second deals with palliative care including the role of palliative sedation and the possibility that legislation may discourage doctors from prescribing adequate analgesia. The third deals with spiritual care for the dying. The final section covers the legal issues in end-of-life care. This book deals with problems we encounter on a daily basis and will be of interest to anyone who works in palliative care and it is useful to have these essays collected together in a single volume.

An Evidence-based Guide

Lesley Braun and Marc Cohen
Churchill Livingstone, 2004
567 pp
ISBN 0-7295-3682-3
RRP $AU 54.95

Available from

Many clinicians are poorly informed about complementary medicines even though, according to the statistics, patients use them by the truckload. This reference guide sets out to bridge that gap and provide scientific information on the 100 most popular herbs and natural supplements. The information on each substance is clearly set out in a manner similar to a drug formulary: chemical components/actions/clinical uses/dosage/toxicity/adverse reactions/interactions/contraindications and precautions/pregnancy use. The material is well referenced. However, it should not be forgotten that the field of herbal medicine remains in its scientific infancy and the appendix at the back of this book dealing with levels of evidence indicates that less than one-third of the indications listed for the various substances are based on clinical trials.

I looked up my favourite contentious issues. I found a balanced discussion regarding the toxicity of kava kava and the benefits of St. John’s Wort. The discussion on shark’s cartilage did not question whether the antiangiogenic molecules known to be in the cartilage would be absorbed after oral consumption. I was pleased to see that hydrazine and laetrile were not included; but when I thought how frequently patients ask me about apricot kernels, I wondered whether they should be included briefly to underline their ineffectiveness and toxicity for the novice in the field.

I found this guide to be well-presented, informative and user-friendly. It will be a useful reference in the hospital library.


Third Edition (Paperback)
Derek Doyle, Geoffrey Hanks, Nathan Cherny, Kenneth Calman (Eds)
Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN 0-19-856698-0
1224 pp
RRP £59.95, $US115.00, $AU180.00.

More Info at

The third edition of the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, edited by Derek Doyle et al, is now available in a more affordable paperback edition. I reviewed the OTPM 3e when the hardback edition was released a year ago and described it as the gold standard reference for palliative medicine. Nothing has happened to change that opinion.

The paperback edition is considerably less expensive, which I hope will allow wider access to this invaluable resource for all who work in palliative care, worldwide. The comparative prices for the hardback and paperback editions are £150 and £59.95, SUS225.00 and $US115, and $AU485.00 and $AU180.00.

My Mother’s Battle With AIDS

Nancy A. Draper
Authorhouse, 2004
142 pp
ISBN 1-4184-5107-X
RRP $US15.50

More Info at

Nancy Draper has written a moving account of her elderly mother’s battle with HIV/AIDS. The disease was diagnosed in 1988, the result of a blood transfusion given during cardiac surgery several years earlier. The title refers to the fact that her mother felt compelled to keep the diagnosis secret and suffered in silence because of the social stigmas associated with the disease. During the earlier part of her illness, there are numerous examples of the pain and harm caused by insensitive health care professionals, which serve as lessons for those who work in palliative care. Thankfully, her mother finally received some proper palliative care during the terminal phase of her illness.


Barbara Monroe and Frances Krause (Eds)
Oxford University Press 2005,
ISBN 0-19-852909-0,
RRP $US48.50, £24.95

More Info at

However much we desire to protect children, death and loss are part of life, and dealing with bereaved children is part of palliative care. In her foreword, Dr. Grace Christ says “What makes this book so valuable is that Barbara Monroe and her colleagues have brought together the very latest in individual, group, and community approaches, thoroughly informed by the cutting edge of practice and research in this gradually emerging area of children’s bereavement. Most impressive in this book is the broad range of interventions and special techniques described for work with bereaved children. The use of the Internet, telephone and newer technologies, children’s activity groups, volunteer programs, and self-help groups for caregivers are all vital components of an effective program.” I don’t think I can describe it better.

Reading this book brought back memories that I do not cherish from a long time ago, but my spirit was lightened reading about the enormous and continuing advances made in the management of bereaved children that have occurred since that time. One cannot but admire the inventiveness of some of the interventions described, and the enthusiasm is infectious. I thought the exploration of brief family interventions before bereavement was particularly interesting. Anyone who has anything to do with bereaved children should read this book.

Strongly recommended.

Roger Woodruff

Medical Oncologist and Director of Palliative Care,
Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia
(March 2005)

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