Document Type : Original Article



Objective: To enquire about the level of awareness regarding various important aspects
of palliative medicine among doctors of various departments in four Medical Colleges in
Kolkata through a questionnaire. Materials and Methods: A questionnaire was developed
by few members of Indian Association of Palliative Care. It was distributed, to a convenience
sample of doctors who worked at various departments in all four teaching hospitals in
Kolkata. The distribution and collection of questionnaires was carried out within four months.
Results: The results suggested that 85% of the doctors felt that cancer was the commonest
reason for the palliative care teams to be involved. Seventy four percent of the doctors mentioned
that pain control was their prime job; 53% said that they are enjoying their encounter with
palliative care, so far; 77% of the doctors thought breaking bad news is necessary in further
decision making process; only 22% of the doctors reported the WHO ladder of pain control
sequentially, 35% of the doctors believed other forms of therapies are useful in relieving pain,
35% of the doctors thought that they gave enough importance and time for pain control; 77%
said that they had heard about a hospice, among them still 61% of the doctors thought that the
patients should spend last days of their life at home. Thinking of the future, 92% of the doctors
think that more and more people will need palliative care in the coming days. Conclusion:
Amongst the doctors of various departments, there is a lack of training and awareness in
palliative care. Almost all the doctors are interested and they are willing to have more training
in pain control, breaking bad news, communication skills and terminal care.


1. World Health Organization. Cancer pain relief and palliative care.
Geneva: WHO; 2002.
2. Riley J. The General Medical Council and the right to specialist
palliative care. Palliat Med 1997;11:317‑18.
3. Manual of Cancer Services Standard. London: National Health
Services; 2000.
4. Sureshkumar K, Rajgopal M. Palliative care in Kerala. Palliat Med
5. Saunders C. Appropriate treatment, appropriate death: The
management of terminal malignant disease. London: Edward
Arnold; 1984.
6. Jarrett N, Payne S, Turner P, Hillier R. Someone to talk to and pain
control. What people expect from a specialist palliative care team.
Palliat Med 1999;13:139‑44.
7. Waldron D, O’Boyle CA, Kearney M, Moriarty M, Carney D. Quality
of life measurement in advanced cancer: Assessing the individual.
J Clin Oncol 1999;17:3603‑11.
8. Barnett M. Lecture at 8th Congress of European Association of
Palliative care. The Hague. Netherlands, 3rd April 2003.
9. Waitzkin H, Stoeckle JD. The communication of information about
illness. Clinical, sociological, and methodological considerations.
Adv Psychosom Med 1987;8:180‑215.
10. Buckman R. Communication in palliative care: A practical guide.
Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine. 2nd ed. London: Oxford
University Press; 1999.
11. Weisman A. Coping with cancer. New York: McGraw‑Hill; 1979.
12. Penson J. A hope is not a promise: Fostering hope within palliative
care. Int J Palliat Nurs 2000;6:94.
13. Wilson‑Barnett J, Richardson A. Nursing research. London: Oxford
University Press 1999; p. 98‑104.
14. Sykes NP, Pearson SE, Chell S. Quality of care of the terminally ill:
The carers’ perspective. Palliative 1992;6:227‑36.
15. World Health Organisation. Cancer pain relief. Geneva: WHO; 1986.
16. Dwyer L. Palliative medicine in India. Palliat Med 1997;11:487‑8.
17. Larue F, Colleau SM, Fontaine A, Brasseur L. Oncologists and
primary care physicians’ attitudes towards pain control and
morphine prescribing in France. Cancer 1995;76:2375‑82.
18. Zenz M, Zenz T, Tryba M, Strumpf M. Severe undertreatment
of cancer pain: A 3 year survey of the German situation. J Pain
Symptom Manage 1995;10:187‑91.
19. Takeda F. Results if filed‑testing in Japan of the WHO draft interim
guidelines on the relief of cancer pain. Pain Clin 1986;1:83.
20. Fishman B. The treatment of suffering in patients with cancer pain: In
Foley K, Bonica J, Ventafridda V. editors. Advances in pain research
and therapy, Vol. 16. New York: Raven Press 1990; p. 301‑16.
21. Spilka B, Spangler JD, Nelson CB. Spiritual support in life‑threatening
illness. J Relig Health 1983;22:98‑104.
22. Schrijvers D, Joosens E, Middelheim AZ, Verhoeven A. The place
of death of cancer patients in Antwerp. Palliat Med 1998;12:133‑4.
23. De Conno F, Caraceni A, Groff L, Brunelli C, Donati I, Tamburini M,
et al. Effect of home care on the place of death of advanced cancer
patients. Euro J Cancer 1996;32A: 1142‑7.