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 5, May


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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IAHPC's Homepage

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

Notes by IAHPC Traveling Scholars

What's New

Webmaster's Corner:
Anne Laidlaw

Editor's Notes:
Dr. William Farr

Letters to the Editor:
Dr. William Farr

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Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care

Max Watson, Caroline Lucas, Andrew Hoy, Ian Back

Oxford University Press, 2005
819 pp
ISBN 0-19-850897-2
RRP: £24.95 $US 39.95

More Info at

This new addition to the Oxford Handbook series is said to be based on The Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, but aims to present the information in a concise and succinct format that is clinically practical for use in the day-to-day management of palliative care patients and their families. Overall, these goals have been achieved, and at a much more affordable price.

The book starts with chapters on ethical issues, communication, drug use in palliative care, and an outline of the treatment of common cancers. The next section (270+ pages) is about symptom control. The material is set out well, with many bullet-point lists. There follow chapters on paediatric palliative care and palliative care in non-malignant disease, which I thought were particularly useful as we deal with these problems less often. The closing chapters cover spiritual care, the contributions of allied health professionals, complementary therapies, home care, the terminal phase, and bereavement. There is a brief chapter covering some medical emergencies and there are Crisis Symptom Control Guidelines, conveniently placed inside the front and back covers of the book, covering pain, nausea and vomiting, breathlessness, and restlessness and agitation.

This little book is packed with practical information. As is customary with these handbooks, the font size is small and a little difficult to read without good light. It will be of use to any health care professionals who deal with palliative care patients and their families; this applies both to people who work in palliative care and to those who only occasionally run into a palliative care patient, for whom it can be recommended as a comprehensive practical guide that is relatively inexpensive. It would be even more useful if it came with a CD-ROM so that the information could be accessed on the computer terminal in the ward, the GP’s or District Nurses’ offices or, better still, on my handheld PDA.

More Information & purchase click here


A Companion for Living and Dying

Michael Stillwater and Gary Malkin
A Wisdom of the World Production, 2003
CD & Book (75pp) set. (A Music only edition titled Unspeakable Grace is also available.)
RRP $US19.95, 9.60
The Music and The Messages on this CD are designed for the alleviation of anxieties that may arise during the most vulnerable time of a persons life, when there may be a need for companionship, guidance, and a compassionate presence that addresses the heart of our humanity. 
The Messages on Graceful Passages are delivered by respected teachers, practitioners and caregivers and comprise a wonderful diversity:
1.   Letting yourself be loved, Lew Epstein (Non-denominational)
2.   Returning Home, Tu Weiming (Taoist)
3.   The Gift of Life, Alan Jones (Christian/Anglican)
4.   The Long Walk, Jyoti (Native-American/Earth Wisdom)
5.   The End of Suffering, Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhist)
6.   Franciscan Blessing, Maxamillian Mizzi (Christian/Catholic)
7.   In Your Blessed Hands, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Jewish)
8.   Unconditional Love, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (Non-denominational)
9.   We Are Not Alone, Arun and Sunandra Gandhi (Hindu)
10. Be Here Now, Ramdass (Non-denominational)
11. The Welcoming, Michael Stillwater (Non-denominational)
12. Swing Low, Linda Tillery (Christian/African-American)
In his introduction, Dr. Ira Byock says, “Graceful Passages is a unique resource for people who are facing the prospect of dying.”  This CD makes the wisdom of experienced clinicians, counselors and spiritual advisers available to anyone who is confronting lifes end, either themselves or within their circle of family and friends.  In contrast to our medical response to people who are dying, the listeners feelings need not be pathologic before Graceful Passages would have value, nor must this soothing resource be prescribed.  Instead, Graceful Passages offers anticipatory guidance that is appropriate for anyone who is interested in exploring his or her personal mortality.  I can attest to the power of the words and music to comfort, build confidence and connect listeners with their own inner wisdom.  The resulting combination of tone and text is at once authentic and aesthetic.
Very moving. Very appropriate. Highly recommended.

Roger Woodruff
Medical Oncologist and Director of Palliative Care,
Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia
(April 2005)

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