Worldwide, more than 50 million people die each year and it is estimated on the basis of the conditions leading to death that up to 60% of them could benefit from some form of palliative care. It is a public health challenge to ensure that these people can access good palliative or end-of-life care. Pursuing good population health essentially also implies striving for a 'good enough death' and a good quality of care at the end of life. Safeguarding a good quality of the end of life for patient populations for whom it is appropriate requires a public health approach. In most developed countries ageing populations that increasingly die from chronic diseases after a prolonged -often degenerative- dying trajectory make up the public health challenges for palliative care. The very large baby boom generation will soon reach old age and can be expected to pose strong demands regarding the circumstances and care at their end of life. Only by applying a public health approach to palliative care (instead of individual patient perspectives), can societies successfully help to organize and plan end-of-life care in accordance with these aspirations.
A Public Health Perspective on End of Life Care presents a synthesis and overview of relevant research and empirical data on the end of life that can bear a basis for a more systematic 'public health of the end of life'. The book focuses on population health, rather than clinical interventions or other aspects of individual health, and discusses studies using different methodologies (not only epidemiological research). The focus is on the quality of the end-of-life of populations, in particular from social sciences, environmental sciences, and humanities perspectives.
PART I: INTRODUCTION; PART II: CLINICAL AND SOCIAL CONTEXT OF DEATH AND DYING; PART III: END-OF-LIFE CARE: PROVISION, ACCESS, AND CHARACTERISTICS; PART IV: END-OF-LIFE CARE SETTINGS; PART V: INEQUALITIES AT THE END OF LIFE: UNDERSERVED GROUPS; PART VI: END-OF-LIFE CARE POLICIES; PART VII: CONCLUSION