Public Health & Palliative Care
Palliative care and end-of-life care have come a long way in the past twenty years. From being historically designed to address the needs of advanced cancer patients in the last days or weeks of life, research evidence and best practice models of palliative care now advocate for early intervention across all chronic life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care has the potential to improve both the quality of dying and the quality of life for people at the end of life and their social surroundings. There is also an increasing awareness that in order to improve the circumstances surrounding the process of dying, we require a public health approach alongside professional health services. The public’s involvement in care provision has shown great potential in developing sustainable palliative care systems, ready to face current and future societal challenges related to ageing populations with multiple health conditions.
A public health approach to palliative care is the most under-developed angle at this stage of palliative care development, yet it is the approach that has the most potential to enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of the largest number of people in sickness and in health, in dying and in loss, and in all aspects of caring for one another.
Public health approaches involve:
• strategies for the planning and development of appropriate service provision in palliative care;
• strategies for the monitoring of the needs assessment, quality of palliative care and social equity at a population level;
• strategies for community involvement in health and wellbeing, including experiences of death, dying, loss and care. This ‘new’ public health in palliative care is also known as health-promoting palliative care and involves organising public health actions and evaluating their outcomes.
The Reference Group is chaired by Luc Deliens, Professor of Palliative Care Research and Joachim Cohen, Professor of Public Health & Palliative Care from the End-of-Life Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University, Belgium