Sometimes referred to as “comfort care,” palliative care is a specialized approach to the treatment of patients with a serious or life-threatening illness. The goal of palliative care is to provide relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness. It is also designed to improve the quality of life of both the patient and the patient’s family.

Palliative care is provided by a team of specialists who are trained in assisting patients and their families through what can be the most difficult time in their lives. Members of the team typically include physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, and spiritual care coordinators. Some palliative care teams have physical and speech therapists, pharmacists, dieticians and trained volunteers.

If you need more information about hospice, palliative care, advance care planning, or dealing with serious illness, please visit NHPCO’s consumer-focused web resource,