By Dr. Willem Scholten
In our May 2017 newsletter, the IAHPC reported that a blog on the British Medical Journal’s website called for awareness that terminology influences patient access to controlled medicines. The call was made jointly by IAHPC, International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies, the Swiss Romandy College for Addiction Medicine, the World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, the European Pain Federation (EFIC), and the Swiss Society on Addiction Medicine.
We called on IAHPC members to support the campaign to use always neutral, precise, and respectful language (‘NPR language’). This is important, because there is evidence that its opposite (biased, inaccurate/ambiguous, and disrespectful words) can impair patient access to medication.
Much has happened since.
IAHPC has added a Language Matters web page, where you can find resources to help implement NPR language.
There is also a link to another important article, titled ‘Access to treatment with controlled medicines, rationale and recommendations for neutral, precise, and respectful language.’ This article helps to make terminology policies operational and to bring the use of NPR language into practice. It includes many more considerations and information on the use of neutral, precise, and respectful language. Perhaps the most important is a table that pinpoints 23 terms that should not be used, provides an explanation for each, and suggests words that could be used instead. The article also provides suggestions on how to implement appropriate language in the workplace.
The article, published in the December issue of Public Health, is the Editor’s Choice and can therefore can be downloaded free of charge until 6 February 2018. You can save a copy to your computer, and use it as a reference when you are drafting a publication, or when acting as a reviewer for a medical journal. I highly recommend always to consult the article’s table in such cases.
Translations of this article into Dutch, French, Italian, and Spanish are upcoming and will be added to the Language Matters page when ready.
Other resources that you can find on the Language Matters page are:
‘We also wrote to medical journals on pain, palliative care, and oncology,’ says Dr. Scholten. ‘A number reacted positively, although I am not sure that all of them are aware how widely inappropriate language is used. Therefore, if you see journals continuing the use of language that is not neutral, precise, and respectful, you are highly encouraged to hold the editor-in-chief accountable.’
‘We also requested UNODC, WHO, EMCDDA and the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe to apply NPR requirements. The Pompidou Group agreed to apply our norm. This is not startling, as the campaign has its roots in a Pompidou Group Expert Group on legislation for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Their guidelines will be published soon and will include terminology recommendations in line with the current terminology call.’
If you wish to suggest a resource to add to the Language Matters page, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The IAHPC is currently implementing a project to determine the current status of palliative care education in undergraduate levels in health related careers (medical, nursing, psychology, pharmacy, social work, etc.) around the globe. To do this, the IAHPC has developed a survey to identify resources and strategies that have resulted in good outcomes and perform cross-country and in-country comparisons.
A final report with results will be prepared and presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) as part of the agreement of work of IAHPC and WHO. The results will be used in publications that will help disseminate the critical importance of including palliative care in undergraduate levels.
If you currently work teaching undergraduate in a health related field, please find the 10-minute survey here. Please share news of the survey with colleagues and friends who teach palliative care in undergraduate levels. Thank you in advance for your help.
Roberto Wenk, MD
Chair, IAHPC working group, Undergraduate Education in Palliative Care
The Palliative Medicine Research Group, from left to right: Kathryn Ducharlet, Jennifer Philip, Beth Russell, Stacey Panozzo, Tanya Fraser, Matt Grant, and Anna Collins.
Four boxes of books, a collection of review copies sent to IAHPC book editor Roger Woodruff in 2017, will form the basis of a palliative care mini-library at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The hospital is within the University of Melbourne Palliative Medicine Research Group, and the books will be accessible to dozens of users, including: doctors, nurses, psychologists, music therapists, researchers, students, teachers, and professors.
‘This wonderful collection of about 25 books will contribute to improving the care for people with advanced illness,’ says Professor Jennifer Philip, Chair of Palliative Medicine at University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital and Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC). ‘Their influence has the likelihood of touching hundreds of people.’ Philip’s newly-established position brings together a collaborative partnership between the university, hospital, and the VCCC.
Her research group includes physicians, psychologists, and health services researchers whose main focus is to improve systems of palliative care provision to ensure equitable access to high-quality care underpinned by a sound evidence base.
On Universal Health Care (UHC) Day, the IAHPC released a three-minute, 48-second YouTube video to show how palliative care can improve the quality of care regardless of location, age, or prognosis.
The tightly paced video provides commentary from 10 palliative care professionals linked to IAHPC as well as two patients. It offers a swift, sweeping snapshot of palliative care today (’26 million children globally need it,’ ‘health care providers aren’t educated in it, primary care providers aren’t usually educated in it, politicians aren’t educated to know about it’). In doing so, it also lights a pathway to improved palliative care: setting up a system that addresses the whole person, not just the ailment; exposing palliative care to all medical students; and educating patients, providers, and politicians.
Please share with your colleagues and friends so that they also join our global palliative care movement!
The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) will provide:
Each scholarship of $US2,000 is to be used for registration and travel expenses. Winners will need to supply funding for other expenses. Applicants from all disciplines are welcome. To apply for a traveling scholarship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
Preference will be given to: