IAHPC book reviews

2012; Volume 13, No 11, November

IAHPC book reviews

by Dr. Roger Woodruff

Palliative Care Book of the Month

Mark Cobb, Christina Puchalski and Bruce Rumbold (Eds)
Oxford University Press, 2012
ISBN 978-0-19-957139-0
RRP £125.00 $US225.00

In palliative medicine, there is little or no argument about the importance of spirituality and spiritual care and this Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Health Care is an attempt to gather together all the intersections and interactions between spirituality and health care.

The first section is entitled Traditions and includes chapters on each of the major religions. Some of these were a little on the philosophical side and the sort of thing I would have liked to know was what effect the beliefs and teachings of Islam would have on the management and suffering of a 44 year old Muslim woman with disseminated breast cancer.

The chapter on Feminist Spirituality surprised me, given its momentary time frame and the tiny fraction of womankind to which it applies. A throwaway line refers to ‘a growing literature on feminist spirituality in Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism’, but I could find no mention of it, particularly in the chapter on Islam.

The next sections are about Concepts and Practice. Here you will find much palliative care-friendly material including chapters on Restorative Medicine by Christine Puchalski, Palliative Care by Marie Lloyd-Williams, Care of the Soul by Michael Kearney, Dignity Therapy by Harvey Chochinov, and a host of others.

Sections on Research, Education, and Future Challenges make up the rest of the book. The future religious scenarios for Western Europe were nowhere near as radically altered as prophesied by some.

My criticisms aside, the coverage in this book is broad, the depth good, and the editors are to be congratulated for gathering all these aspects of spirituality in health care in one book. A definite yes for the Hospital library. A strong plus for the Palliative Care library.

Other Reviews

The Four Stages of Hope
Cathleen Fanslow-Brunjes
Quill Driver Books, 2008
106 pp
ISBN 978-1-610350-24-2
RRP $US16.95 £7.95

As words or as entities, hope and dying have never sat comfortably together for me. But hope is important and we must take care to not banish it or destroy it. Cathleen Fanslow-Brunjes takes this to an extra level and describes what hope really is for dying patients, how it changes as the disease progresses, and how understanding it may greatly facilitate our caring for these patients. I felt comfortably at home—at the bedside, in the consulting room, in the counselling room next to the nursing station—as she described different patients with a variety of actions and responses. I felt I was reading something that was clear and very practical from a clinical point of view, and which might make a significant difference to how my patients and their families fared. I resolved to take this book to a quiet place one weekend and re-read the heart of it.

Sam Oliver
Fideli Publishing, 2012
78 pp
ISBN 978-1-60414-553-3
RRP $US12.50 £7.80

This little book is written to help volunteers (and other people) caring for the dying. It is about the invisible spiritual bond that can develop with patients, and which in turn can tell the carer so much about themselves. Reverend Sam Oliver has written other books that have been favourably reviewed in this column, including What the Dying Tell Us (1998). The similarity of the title to Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie is unfortunate, as they are quite different books. If your program includes teaching volunteers, it is certainly worth having this book on hand.

A Volunteer’s Perspective
Jack E. Kile
254 pp
ISBN 978-1-46372-75-43
RRP $US13.99 £8.90

Dr. Kile is a retired audiologist and a keen singer. His book describes how judicious and appropriate use of humor and music may improve communication between carers and hospice patients and their families. Most of the book comprises clinical vignettes from his six years as a hospice volunteer. This book would be a valuable addition to the shelf of books for volunteers-in-training at your service.

Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia)
October 2012

Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and Past Chair. His bio may be found here.

Note for authors and publishers: 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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