Symptom Assessment in Palliative Care
Effective assessment and management of symptoms is core business for palliative care. Because of their extended contact with ill people, nurses are particularly well placed to assess and manage symptoms experienced by those with life-limiting conditions. In the context of symptom assessment, Aranda highlights numerous issues faced by dying people – confrontation with dying, death, and loss, and the changing of social roles and relationships – and describes their symptoms as ‘an ever- present and distressing reminder of advanced disease that has a major negative impact on quality of life and the capacity to engage in daily activities.’ These observations create an overall picture of a person whose condition is more likely to deteriorate than to improve, and in whom the development of a new symptom, exacerbation of existing symptoms, or a change or deterioration in general condition may be sudden and rapid.
This chapter will provide a framework for symptom assessment that takes into account the complex and multiple issues outlined above and sets symptom assessment within the wider context of the nursing admission assessment, key assessment principles, and the communication skills and attitudes that characterize the ‘human element’ of assessment.
- Symptom assessment tools
- A description of the use of the family tree/genogram
- Consideration of the assessment of difficult symptoms
- Practical case studies
- An extensive reference list (including books, journals and websites) for further reading and investigation