Terminology: the historical perspective, evolution and current usage – room for confusion?

  • M. Fallon
    Corresponding author: Tel./fax: +0131 537 3094.
    St Columba’s Hospice Chair of Palliative Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh EH4 2XR, UK
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  • J. Smyth
    Reader in Palliative Medicine, Edinburgh Cancer Centre, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road South, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU UK
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Published:April 07, 2008DOI:


      Modern palliative care started with St Christopher’s Hospice in 1967 and was initially regarded as ‘terminal care’. This served as a template for a developing model of multidisciplinary clinical care, teaching and research. A decade later, several hospital Palliative Care Teams were established and different terms were used to describe them. An evidence base developed slowly and a medical subspeciality was established, known as Palliative Medicine. Over the last two decades we have seen an expansion in non-hospice palliative care. The terms used to describe this care have been variable and inconsistent.
      Our challenges in progress involve establishing clear terminology and an evolving improved evidence base, along with a realisation that there are large gaps in patient care.


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