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BMJ Support Palliat Care doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000421
  • Book review

Review of ‘Supportive Care and Respiratory Disease’ by Sam Ahmedzai, David Baldwin and David Currow

  1. Sara Booth
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sara Booth MD FRCP FRCP (Edin), Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Associate Lecturer University of Cambridge, Palliative Medicine, CUHNHSFT, Box 63 Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 200, UK; sb628{at}cam.ac.uk

Sam Ahmedzai sets out ‘to inform and inspire other doctors and nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacists, spiritual care providers and students to improve the quality of living for all patients and families who live with chronic disease.’ As he notes, it is for palliative care to ‘influence colleagues in all relevant healthcare disciplines to adopt the principles of modern supportive care, to benefit a wider range of patients to the earlier stage of illness’.

There is an interesting, detailed, lengthy chapter on palliation and supportive care by Prof Ahmedzai himself. This wide-ranging and comprehensive section compares and contrasts palliative and supportive care, setting out the idea that supportive care is ‘a generic set of skills and knowledge’ rather than a distinct specialty. This section finishes with an interesting, important exposition on the ever urgent and the increasingly relevant topic of assisted dying and euthanasia and what our response as a specialty should be to this. In an excellent section I would only argue that I do not think sedation is becoming more common, rather less commonly used than when I was training. In the early general set of chapters there are also important and useful sections on anatomy and physiology (excellent from Martin Muers), measuring quality of life and the principles of economic evaluation (Willis). The latter is …

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