Introducing palliative care Third Edition By Robert Twycross Radcliffe Medical Press 200 pages £18.85

This is a practical resource for all professionals involved in palliative care. The first chapter gives an overview of what palliative care can offer to patients and their carers. It offers insight to those professionals or students new to the specialty and uses a holistic approach to explain what palliative care has to offer.

Introducing Palliative Care is described by the author as a foundation manual for some courses in palliative care. It is certainly a book which students will find invaluable in exploring the components of palliative care in all settings (cancer and non-cancer, acute and chronic, hospital and community).

There is a balanced view of the ethical issues which, at times, challenge us all in our pursuit of providing the best for our patients. This includes the dilemmas surrounding euthanasia and the restoration of hope.

The chapter about psychological aspects of care is presented in a sensitive but practical way. It covers the fundamental principles in communication, breaking bad news, coping strategies, spiritual care, as well as bereavement.

The author, quite rightly, devotes space to issues of support for the professionals who deliver care.

Following the broad introduction to palliative care, the author goes on to explore some of its components in more depth. Although the book 'introduces' palliative care, there is much in the way of updates and reminders for professionals who are more experienced in this field.

The chapters covering symptom management are comprehensive and explanatory. The author provides thorough rationale for interventions, but also acknowledges areas that are not supported by a rigorous evidence base. There is plenty of material here to satisfy the needs of experienced practitioners who wish to update their evidence base and reflect on their clinical practice.

There is certainly no shortage of further reading, which is immensely helpful to those who wish to explore the research further.

Some of the complexities of symptom management are illustrated by the use of diagrams and tables, which enhance the author's ability to give clarity to otherwise arduous theories. The complex world of pharmacology is adeptly explored and put into a workable context.

This book is a valuable addition to the increasing resources available to healthcare professionals, both those currently working in the specialty and those who wish to learn more about what is available for all patients with palliative-care needs.

Carole Bridge Regional cancer service assessor (palliative care), North West region; Royal College of Nursing palliative nursing group steering committee Member