Center to Advance Palliative Care Statement Clarifying the Definition of Palliative Care

It has been widely noted in the press that in her final days former First Lady Barbara Bush opted to discontinue “medical treatment” in favor of what her family termed, "comfort care." In several instances this has been discussed in terms of palliative care. But it is important the public properly understand exactly what palliative care is. We therefore wish to clarify the record.

Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage of a serious illness − and it can be provided along with curative and life-prolonging treatment in any care setting. Palliative care is based on patient and family needs, not prognosis.

Palliative care is a medical and nursing specialty focused on maximizing quality of life during any and all stages of a serious illness. As specialized medical care focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness, the goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.

Patients and their families can learn more about what palliative care is and how to get it at

The Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) is a national, member-based nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious illness. It provides online training and Designation status in communication skills aimed at clinicians treating serious illness. Learn more at


Contact: Lisa Morgan,