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Oct 29, 2020

In this week's podcast we talk with Kieran Quinn, author of a systematic review and meta-analysis of palliative care for non-cancer illness, published in JAMA.  We also talk with Krista Harrison, first author of an accompanying editorial

JAMA editors cut out some of my favorite parts of Krista's editorial, possibly because they were more like a blog post than a JAMA editorial.  (I was senior author; go figure how it ended up reading like a blog post!) So here is the submitted introduction, unedited:

"As with many people’s best ideas, inspiration struck in the shower. Dr. Balfour Mount, a urologic-cancer surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Quebec, Canada, needed a name to differentiate a new hospital-based service he created for people with serious life-threatening illness from Dr. Cicely Saunders’ English hospice programs. Dr. Mount coined the term “palliative care” to connote the core goals of the service: to improve quality of life and to mitigate sources of distress. The field of palliative care was born. The year was 1975.  Forty-five years later, palliative care retains its central focus on improving quality of life for people living with serious, life-limiting illnesses and their families by addressing physical and psychological symptoms, social and spiritual needs, and aligning patient and family values with available care options."  

In our podcast, we talk about the surprising finding in Keiran's study that palliative care for noncancer illness was associated with a modest improvement in symptoms, reduced hospitalization and emergency department use, increased advance care planning but not improved quality of life.  How can palliative care, since inception designed to improve quality of life, not improve quality of life?

Listen to the podcast to find out!