Published on: February 24, 2012

Press Release from the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC):

The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care develops a List of Essential Practices in Palliative Care (download)

(Houston TX) – In a project which included the participation of individuals and representatives of pain and palliative care organizations, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) recently developed a list of essential practices in palliative care.

Under the framework of the “essential” concept, the IAHPC decided to work in different projects aimed to identify the “essential” components for palliative care. This list of Essential Practices follows the IAHPC List of Essential Medicines in Palliative Care developed in 2007 and the Opioid Essential Prescription Package developed in 2011.

The list of essential practices in palliative care for health workers working in primary care includes those practices aimed at meeting the most prevalent physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of palliative care patients and their families.

To work on this proposal, IAHPC formed a working group which included board members of IAHPC and external advisors from the field. The working group developed a plan of action and methodology which included a Delphi process among 425 health practitioners, primary care providers, and palliative care experts from 63 different countries around the globe, and a ranking survey with representatives from 45 international palliative care and pain relief organizations.

The IAHPC List of Essential Practices includes 23 practices with different levels of intervention under the following domains of care: Physical Care; Psychological/Emotional/Spiritual Care; Care Planning and Coordination; and Communication Issues. The IAHPC List of Essential Practices in palliative care may help define appropriate primary palliative care and improve the quality of care delivered globally. IAHPC will focus future projects on the evaluation of their uptake and impact in the quality of lives of patients and their families.

Dr. Roberto Wenk, chair of the Board of IAHPC remarked:  “The provision of adequate palliative care at all levels is dependent on access to appropriate treatment and care. We hope that this list serves as a reference to palliative care providers and institutions around the world. We also hope that the WHO will include the recommended practices in the palliative care publications of its programs, consonant to its interest in improving availability of and access to palliative care.

Derek Doyle, founder of IAHPC and member of the working group stated: “The resulting essential practices will serve as a guide to advance palliative care in primary care where the largest number of patients in the world access care. The implementation of these practices will provide the ability to monitor the provision and practice of palliative care; promote the integration of palliative care principles in each disease specific group; and improve the cost-effectiveness in the provision of health care.

Liliana De Lima, executive director of IAHPC commented: We are very grateful with all the individuals and representatives of organizations who collaborated in this process and the members of the working group for their unconditional support in helping develop the IAHPC List of Essential Practices in palliative care.”

The List of Essential Practices in palliative care is available in the IAHPC website under the Palliative Care Essentials icon on the homepage at  As the holder of the copyright, IAHPC allows free dissemination for educational purposes with appropriate credit given to the organization. Please feel free to disseminate this announcement to your colleagues and friends.

IAHPC will now focus on the development of future projects, including the impact of the implementation of the List of Essential Practices in the quality of the lives of patients and their families, and the identification of the competencies needed to implement the resulting practices.

To inquire about this project or for additional information about IAHPC, contact the organization through its website at

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