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Issue Background

Palliative Care / Quality of Life

SPPAN Position

SPPAN supports efforts to expand access to high-quality palliative care throughout the United States. Because good pain care is an integral part of good palliative care, policies promoting improved education, access, and research into palliative care are consistent with SPPAN’s policy priorities. The same integrative approach to pain care is a key characteristic of palliative care, once again reinforcing the symbiotic nature of these two areas of care for people who are suffering.


Palliative care, or palliative medicine, is specialized medical care for people facing serious and chronic illness. It focuses on relief from symptoms, pain, and stress–whatever the diagnosis. Its goal is to improve quality of life for both patient and family. Palliative care is provided by a team that includes physicians, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient’s own primary doctor to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided along with curative treatment.

SPPAN is collaborating with the American Cancer Society, which is leading the charge to improve policy as it relates to providing palliative care, and with other organizations whose interests align with this priority. Policy initiatives that address workforce needs, research and patient access could rapidly bring wider availability of palliative care in the US. The implementation of such policies would help meet the needs of those enduring life-changing pain without relief.

More Resources:

ACS-CAN model language for QOL bills
ACS-CAN: How Do You Measure Up? (see pp. 42-44)
ACS QOL Legislation 2013
ACS QOL Palliative Care at a Glance – 02-2013

High-quality integrative pain care is a key component of good palliative care. Efforts to expand access to excellent palliative care thus serve to expand access to excellent pain care as well.