What is Palliative Medicine?

‘Pallium’ comes from Latin and means ‘cloak’. Palliative means ‘easing’ or ‘protecting’. Palliative medicine deals with the holistic treatment and support of patients with severe and advanced illnesses, where the treatment is not directed at curing the underlying illness but instead alleviating the symptoms that are the source of the patient’s suffering.

The goals of palliative medicine

As a severe or incurable disease progresses, patients often experience pain and other distressing symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, or confusion). In addition, their quality of life may be impaired by psychological, social, and spiritual burdens. The goal of palliative medical care is to restore and maintain the quality of life of patients and their families as they confront a life-threatening illness that they cannot fully overcome. Palliative medicine can prevent and relieve suffering by early detection, assessment, and effective treatment of pain as well as other problems/symptoms of a physical, psychosocial, and spiritual nature.

Palliative medical care seeks to make possible an independent, symptom-free and mindful life even after the underlying illness is no longer curable or meaningfully treatable.


  • Care structures
  • Ethical principles
  • Goals and methods
  • Palliative unit
  • Support organisation