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J Palliat Med. 2005 Jun;8(3):486-9.

Extending palliative care is there a role for preventive medicine?

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  • 1University of California, Davis Medical Center Program in Palliative and Hospice Care, Sacramento, California 95817, USA.


Historically, the concept of palliative care has been limited to hospice and end-of-life services. Recently, palliative care has been expanded to emphasize its integration throughout an illness. We suggest that palliative care provides an opportunity to prevent illness. Palliative care providers can effectively reduce the risk of illness in families by employing methods and strategies of preventive medicine. We illustrate three such cases. Patients and survivors may benefit from appropriate recognition and referral to prevent potential medical, social, and psychological problems. For preventive medicine to become fully exploited by palliative care providers, curricula will need to be developed. Risk assessment indicators of heritable and acquired conditions will define core functions of this educational process. Relevant topics should encompass basic preventive medicine methods, methods to disseminate assigned risk to the palliative care team, and referral mechanisms to specialists with expertise in the identified area(s) of concern. Opportunities to integrate preventive care into end-of-life services will create a new dimension for comprehensive palliative care.

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