On this issue I’d long been a believer in “palliative”. After all, most Americans don’t know what palliative care is http://bit.ly/jIChMM and so it seemed an opportunity to build awareness behind the concept. (This is the ideal marketing situation where you get to define what your product or service stands for.)
Some recent developments have me rethinking this. First, Bob Arnold and his colleagues just presented results of testing the names “palliative” vs. “supportive” with cancer patients. Perhaps not surprisingly given other evidence on this topic http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228056/, they found “supportive” more appealing The Oncology Report. This adds to data that there are negatives to using “palliative”, such as among people familiar with end-of-life care who confuse “palliative” with it http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17040151 .
The other issue is that funding for a major public awareness campaign for palliative care is not on the foreseeable horizon. As a result, here’s my quandary:
1. We will likely never have the marketing resources to make the public more familiar with the ideal definition of “palliative” care
2. In the meantime, “palliative” has some negative associations that may be hard to overcome.
3. The term “palliative” is not clear on its own unless you took Latin in High School.
4. The term “supportive” is more so.
5. The use of various terms/definitions is not helping to build any consistent awareness about this kind of care, whatever you want to call it.
What do you think? Some services hedge and call themselves both “palliative” and “supportive”. Others have chosen one name camp or the other. What do you call your service?