Legal Support for Palliative Care Patients

Tamar Ezer, Naomi Burke-Shyne, Kiera Hepford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Context: Palliative care patients face legal issues that impact their quality of life. Legal support, embedded in holistic palliative care services, has developed globally over the last decade to address this. Objectives: This article aims to trace the origins of legal support for palliative care patients, detail models of legal support, and describe achievements and challenges. Methods: The article draws on years of work in this area and the available literature. Results: Common legal issues include disposing of property and drafting wills, planning for children, dealing with debt and securing social benefits, and addressing discrimination. Diverse approaches to integrating legal support include developing paralegal skills, accessing skilled legal advice, empowering patients and families, and building awareness of rights among health care workers. Conclusion: There is robust and growing acceptance of legal support as a key component of holistic palliative care, and many palliative care professionals are identifying and addressing the legal needs they encounter through mediation, guidance on basic rights, or referrals to a lawyer. Addressing legal problems can contribute to peace of mind, well-being, and the health of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S157-S162
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • advocacy
  • law
  • legal
  • Palliative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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