Useful Books

The Association for Palliative Medicine have received some feedback from our members on various reading materials, which they feel other members would benefit from.

Should you wish to add to the list below, please contact Compleat Secretariat.



Being Mortal – Atul Gawande (and his Reith lectures on Radio 4, episode 1)

For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn’t matter whether you were five or fifty – every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality – about what it’s like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do.

Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn’t have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life – all the way to the very end.

Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection

(Description taken from Amazon)




When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

(Description taken from Amazon)



With the End in Mind – Kathryn Mannix

Told through a series of beautifully crafted stories taken from nearly four decades of clinical practice, her book answers the most intimate questions about the process of dying with touching honesty and humanity. She makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with trepidation but with openness, clarity and understanding.

With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, ill and healthy. Open these pages and you will find stories about people who are like you, and like people you know and love. You will meet Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher who, even with Motor Neurone Disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, dying of leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died.

These are just four of the book’s thirty-odd stories of normal humans, dying normal human deaths. They show how the dying embrace living not because they are unusual or brave, but because that’s what humans do. By turns touching, tragic, at times funny and always wise, they offer us illumination, models for action, and hope. Read this book and you’ll be better prepared for life as well as death.

(Description taken from Amazon)



Palliative Care Formulary (PCF6). 6th Edition (UK)

Editors – Robert Twycross, Andrew Wilcock, Paul Howard

The sixth edition of our flagship publication (Palliative Care Formulary) was published in September 2017. Since the publication of PCF5 in 2014, every drug monograph has been reviewed and updated. PCF6 has 35 chapters and appendices, an increase of three from PCF5. In Part 1, some drug monographs have been merged and new ones added. Part 2 has been divided into Parts 2 and 3. The new chapters are all in Part 2: Prescribing in children, Renal impairment and Hepatic impairment. Part 3 covers Routes of Administration.

Although written primarily with cancer patients in mind, PCF6 contains specific material relating to several other life-limiting diseases e.g. COPD, congestive heart failure, renal failure, and Parkinson’s disease. PCF also includes a number of Quick Clinical Guides.

(Description taken from Amazon)



The Palliative Care Adult Network Guidelines

Ian Back, Max Watson, Peter Armstrong, Craig Gannon & Nigel Sykes

The PANG Guidelines have been available for palliative care professionals since 2002. Now in the fourth edition the goal of the guidelines remains the same, – to provide evidence based, practical advice to those looking after patients at the end of life.

The fourth edition has been updated by an authorship team of over 80 specialists in Palliative care from nine regions across the UK. PANG is a not for profit collaboration aimed at sharing key information to help support patients and families. The Kindle edition allows the Guidelines to be accessed and navigated on a wide range of handheld devices using the search and find tools that come with the free Kindle app. Since the first edition of PANG in 2002 more than 300,000 printed versions have been distributed across the UK and beyond.

The same care and attention to provide an informative friend for those supporting patients and families in the palliative context has been applied to the fourth edition as to the previous three and it is hoped it will prove to be as useful a friend to hard pressed professionals. Please note that this publication has two front covers clearly separating the Adult and Paediatric elements of the book.

(Description taken from Amazon)



Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care

Max Watson, Caroline Lucas, Andrew Hoy & Jo Wells

The Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care covers all aspects of palliative care in a concise and succinct format suited to busy professionals who need to access key information in their daily care of patients.

This new edition is revised throughout, with an additional emphasis on the nursing aspects of Palliative Care. The authors have included new sections on international palliative care, self care and liaison palliative care in acute hospitals. There is also extended material on the use of antibiotics, palliative care research and quality of life issues.

The second edition of the Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care continues to be an invaluable resource for all health professionals working with adults, children and families with palliative care needs.

(Description taken from Amazon)