Media Watch

2013; Volume 14, No 11, November

Media Watch: an annotated list of recent articles about palliative care in the news media and the literature

Media Watch is intended as an advocacy and research tool. The weekly report, published by Barry R. Ashpole, a Canadian communications consultant and educator, monitors the literature and the lay press on issues specific to the quality of end-of-life care. It is international in scope and distribution. Each month, this section of the IAHPC will publish an abstract or summary of an article or report of special interest noted in a recent issue of Media Watch (see below).

Bridging the gaps in palliative care bereavement support: an international perspective

Death Studies, 2014; 38 (1): 54-61. A review of palliative care policies and bereavement support practices in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and Japan demonstrated four challenges: 1) questions over providing universal versus targeted support; 2) a lack of clear evidence driving service delivery; 3) informal or no risk assessment; and 4) limited or no evaluation of services. Bridging the gaps between the policy and practice ... [and] ... support requires acknowledging the challenges of medical and public health models, improving bereavement need assessment processes, enhancing the role of primary care providers, and extending research to provide an evidence-base for interventions.

Dignity in care: time to take action

Journal of Pain & Symptom management | Online – 7 October 2013 – Patient care and caring about patients should go hand in hand. Caring implicates our fundamental attitude towards patients, and the ability to convey kindness, compassion and respect. Yet all too often, patients and families experience healthcare as impersonal, mechanical and quickly discover that patient-hood trumps person-hood. The consequences of a medical system organized around care rather than caring are considerable. Despite technical competence, patients and families are dissatisfied with medical encounters when caring is less than evident. Lack of empathy and emotional disengagement often accompanies health care provider burnout. Caring is the gateway to disclosure; without it, patients are less likely to say what is bothering them, leading to missed diagnoses, medical errors and compromised patient safety. There are also liability issues, with most complaints levied against healthcare professionals stemming from failures in care tenor. Formal education for healthcare providers lacks a continued focus on achieving a culture of caring. If caring really matters, healthcare systems can insist on certain behaviors and impose certain obligations to improve care tenor, empathy, and effective communication. Caregivers need to be engaged in looking at their own attitudes towards patients, their own vulnerability, their own fears and whatever else it is that shapes their tone of care. Healthcare professionals must set aside some time, supported by their institutions, to advance a culture of caring – now is the time to take action.

The current and back issues of the weekly report can be accessed here.

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