Delivery of Palliative Care Services

Delivery of Palliative Care Services

September 2010

Palliative care is a philosophy aimed at enhancing quality of life through the effective management of pain and distressing symptoms while incorporating psychosocial and spiritual care based upon each woman’s values, beliefs and culture. Palliation incorporates efforts to relieve pain and suffering from diagnosis onward, facilitates effective communication between the patient and practitioner, and supports the goals of cure, life prolongation or acceptance of death.

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology is committed to promoting and ensuring the highest quality of comprehensive clinical care throughout the continuum of disease and therefore feels that incorporation of palliative care principles is crucial to the delivery of quality care to women diagnosed with a gynecologic malignancy.

Members are encouraged to expand their knowledge of palliative care through the development of communication skills, attitudes and cultural competency. They are encouraged to seek subspecialty certification or collaborate with professionals who have subspecialty certification in Hospice and Palliative Medicine through the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine.

The Society is committed to the education of future generations of healthcare providers and encourages research furthering the knowledge of palliative care, thereby, improving the quality of life of gynecologic cancer patients. 

SGO’s Principles of Palliative Care

1) Express sensitivity to cultural differences and deliver palliative care with compassion, empathy and respect for a woman as an individual.

2) Establish open communication with women and their families providing the information necessary to understand their condition, prognosis and treatment options.

3) Alleviate pain and distressing symptoms, whether physical or emotional, maintaining hope and leading to an improvement in the woman’s quality of life.

4) Recognize that a multi-disciplinary approach utilizing the services of professionals trained in psychological, social and spiritual issues optimizes care and well-being.

5) Respect a woman’s decision regarding acceptance or refusal of further treatment.

6) Recognize the practitioner’s responsibility to fully inform women of treatments unlikely to achieve benefit or do harm.

7) Encourage women and families to consider hospice care as an option when appropriate.

8) Understand and support the woman’s preferences regarding end of life care.

9) Maintain continuity of care for terminally ill women, avoiding feelings of isolation and abandonment for the woman and her family.

10) Acknowledge the affect that end of life care has on the family and provide emotional support including access to social and bereavement services.

11) Recognize that while providing palliative care is emotionally rewarding it is crucial to acknowledge the potential for compassion fatigue and the need to support each other including members of the multidisciplinary team in order to remain fully engaged.