Global Health Now: The Opposite of Palliative Care

20 March, 2023

Dear HIFA colleagues,

I was interested to read this news item in Global Health News. Overtreatment is clearly a major problem, especially towards the end of life. The article relates to the USA, but this is increasingly a global problem.


The Opposite of Palliative Care

The last days of people facing terminal diagnoses in the US are all-too-often filled with aggressive—and ultimately unhelpful—medical care, a recent study finds.

Researchers found that in the final 30 days of life of 146,000 older patients, most of them received “aggressive end of life care.”

Markers of such invasive care included repeated ER visits, hospitalizations, interventional cancer treatments, last-minute hospice enrollment, and death in a hospital.

Both people living at home and those living in nursing homes experienced these kinds of drastic interventions—which researchers say stem from decisions made by both caregivers and physicians.

The Quote: “Patients who received this type of aggressive care experience more pain, actually die sooner, have a much poorer quality of life at the end,” said the study’s co-author.

The New York Times:


Best wishes, Neil

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: