News Release

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Publication Offers Relief to Those Suffering from Pain and Other Distressing Symptoms of Illness

The National Institute of Nursing Research Brochure Highlights the Benefits of Palliative Care.

Dealing with the symptoms of a serious illness is difficult. But help is available — a new brochure describes a comprehensive treatment that helps reduce or eliminate the pain and other distressing symptoms of illness and medical treatments. "Palliative Care: The Relief You Need When You’re Experiencing the Symptoms of Serious Illness," produced by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), a component of the National Institutes of Health, explains in easy-to-understand language what palliative care is, who it benefits, and how it works.

The brochure also addresses certain misconceptions about palliative care, such as that it is only for the dying. Although often seen as an end-of-life protocol, "palliative care provides relief to patients dealing with chronic illnesses as well, including AIDS, cystic fibrosis, and diseases of the heart, lungs, and kidneys," noted Dr. Patricia A. Grady, NINR director.

Patients can request and receive palliative care during a hospital stay, where it is delivered in tandem with therapies meant to contain or cure illness, or in settings such as hospice, where such therapies cease but the need for comfort continues for those who are near the end of life.

Although the primary purpose of palliative care is to reduce pain and distressing symptoms, research has discovered it offers other benefits as well, including improvements in patient-provider communication, emotional support, and satisfaction with overall care.

"As the lead NIH institute for end-of-life science, NINR supports research that helps develop the evidence base for palliative care, which not only relieves pain and suffering, but also provides critical emotional support to family members who are faced with difficult end-of-life decisions while grappling with the impending loss of a loved one," said Dr. Grady.

The brochure also highlights:

  • how to decide if someone needs palliative care,
  • how to ask a health care provider for palliative care,
  • how palliative care differs from hospice care,
  • what kind of specialists participate on a palliative care team, and
  • insurance coverage for palliative care treatment.

NINR developed the brochure to increase awareness of palliative care among patient and caregiving populations, the general public, the media, and care providers. "Our goal is to increase the number of provider-patient conversations about palliative care resources, so that fewer patients suffer needlessly from pain and distressing symptoms," said Dr. Grady.

For more information about the brochure and other NINR materials, visit or call 301-496-0207.

NINR supports basic and clinical research that develops the knowledge to build the scientific foundation for clinical practice, prevent disease and disability, manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness, and enhance end-of-life and palliative care. For more information about NINR, visit the Web site

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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