Special Interest Group

Hospice and
Palliative Care

Physical therapists in a broad variety of settings, from acute care, rehabilitation, skilled nursing facility, out-patient, to home health and hospice, may encounter patients with life limiting conditions. As part of the care team, we offer interventions and treatment to maximize function, comfort and quality of life.

The Purpose of the Hospice and Palliative Care SIG

The purpose of the Hospice and Palliative Care SIG is to create a means by which APTA Oncology members having a common interest in the treatment of life limiting conditions may meet, confer, and promote these interests.

Mission: To create a forum for persons whose skills and knowledge concerning palliative care and end of life issues can be enhanced to benefit the profession of physical therapy by:


  • Providing education to members.
  • Supporting the networking and mentoring of therapists treating patients with life limiting conditions.
  • Assisting in the dissemination of resources and ideas and to encourage and facilitate research in the field of end of life care relevant to physical therapy practice.
  • Establishing collaborative relationships with other hospice and palliative care organizations to promote the role and value of physical therapy in this setting

SIG Leaders

Barbara Wagner



Vice Chair

Patricia Talone

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Liaison

Karen Mueller

Immediate Past Chair and Board Member

Richard Briggs

Founding Chair and Board Member

Chris Barnes

Social Media Director


SIG Member Resources

General Hospice Care Links

  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) membership organization for hospice and palliative care providers, both organizations and individuals, working towards maximizing access as well as clinical excellence in end of life care.
  • Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) provides health care professionals with the tools, training and technical assistance necessary to start and sustain successful palliative care programs in hospitals and other health care settings. Located at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, CAPC is a national organization dedicated to increasing the availability of quality palliative care services for people facing serious, complex illness.
  • National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals (NCHPP) the individual membership branch of NHPCO for professional and volunteer hospice staff. Interdisciplinary focus on developing resources, education and networking. Sections include Allied Therapists. Free Membership for staff from member hospices.
  • CaringInfo – A program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, provides free resources to help people make decisions about end-of-life care and services before a crisis
  • Aging with Dignity Five Wishes Document. This document fosters discussion between a person, their physician and family to help express how they wish their medical, personal, emotional and spiritual needs be met when seriously ill.
  • Innovations in End-of-Life Care – an international journal of leaders of end-of-life care.
  • Association for Death Education and Counseling – a professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence and recognizing diversity in death education, care of the dying, grief counseling and research in thanatology. Based on quality research and theory, the association provides information, support and resources to its international, multicultural, multidisciplinary membership and through it, to the public.
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) is an organization of physicians and other medical professionals dedicated to excellence in and advancement of palliative medicine through prevention and relief of patient and family suffering by providing education and clinical practice standards, fostering research, facilitating personal and professional development, and by public policy advocacy.
  • National Cancer Institutea component of the National Institutes on Health (NIH) providing information on types of cancer, treatments, clinical trials, coping and research.
  • Oncolink Online resource guide for people living with cancer from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania
  • BC Cancer Agency, Care and Research – Public health information including resources on symptom management and palliative care.
  • End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) – Advanced education and training courses which include: Nursing Care at the End of Life; Pain Management; Symptom Management; Ethical/Legal Issues; Cultural Considerations in End-of-Life Care; Communication; Loss, Grief, Bereavement; Achieving Quality Care at the End of Life; and Preparation for and Care at the Time of Death.
  • Hospice Foundation of America A national foundation with the stated goal of “enhancing the American health care system and the role of hospice within it.” This site offers a wide variety of materials for patient, caregiver and professional education. It includes support message boards as well as printed materials available online or for ordering. Selected materials are available in Spanish as well as English 

References & Reading

  • APTA, Emerging PT Practice: Number 13 ‘Hospice Care’
  • Briggs, R., Mange, J., Scotece, G., Complementary Therapies in End-of-Life Care, Section IV: Physical Therapy. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; 2001.
  • Briggs R. Physical Therapy in Hospice Care. Rehabilitation Oncology 1997; 15(3):16-17.
  • Briggs R. Models For Physical Therapy Practice in Palliative Medicine. Rehabilitation Oncology2000; 18(2): 18-19.
  • Dal Bello-Haas, V. A Framework for Rehabilitation of Neurodegenerative Diseases: Planning Care and Maximizing Quality of Life. Neurology Report; Sep 2002; 26 (3): 115-129.
  • Dal Bello-Haas, V. End of Life: Strategies and Challenges for the Rehabilitation Professional.Neurology Report; Dec 2002; 26 (4): 174-183.
  • Doyle D., Hanks G.W.C., MacDonald N. Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 1993, Second Edition 1998.
  • Doyle D., Hanks G., Cherny N., Calman K., Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine, Third Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2005
  • Ebel S, The Role of the Physical Therapist in Hospice Care. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 1993; 10(5): 32-35 .
  • Frost M. The Role of Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy in Hospice: Patient empowerment. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2001; 18(6): 397-402.
  • Gudas, S.A. ‘Terminal Illness’, in Psychology in the Physical and Manual Therapies, New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2004; 333-350.
  • Mackey KM, Sparling JW. Experiences of Older Women With Cancer Receiving Hospice Care: Significance for Physical Therapy. Phys Ther 2000; 80: 459-468.
  • Pizzi MA, Briggs R., Occupational and Physical Therapy in Hospice: The Facilitation of Meaning, Quality of Life, and Well-being. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation. 2004; 20 (2): 120-130.
  • Ries E. A Special Place: Physical Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care. PT Magazine of Physical Therapy 2007; 15(7): 42-47.
  • Toot, J. Physical Therapy and Hospice: Concept and Practice. Phys Ther 1984; 62(5):665-671.
  • Woods E. Quality of Life: Physical Therapy in Hospice. PT Magazine of Physical Therapy 1998; 6(1): 38-45.
  • Yoshioka H. Rehabilitation for the Terminal Cancer Patient. AM J Phys Med Rehab 1994; 73(3): 199-206.

Suggested Readings

  • Bauby, J TheDiving Bell and the Butterfly, New York, NY: Vintage International; 1997
  • Byock I. Dying Well. New York, NY: Riverhead Books; 1997.
  • Callahan M., Kelley P. Final Gifts. New York, NY: Poseidon Press; 1992.
  • Hennezen, Marie de. Intimate Death: How The Dying Teach Us To Live. New York, NY: Vintage Books; 1998.
  • Kessler D. The Rights of the Dying. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 1997.
  • Kramer H., Kramer K. Conversations at Midnight. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company; 1993.
  • Kubler-Ross E. On Death and Dying. New York, NY: Macmillan; 1969.
  • Kubler -Ross E. Death is of Vital Importance. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press; 1995.
  • Levine S. Meetings at the Edge. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press; 1984.
  • Levine S. Who Dies. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press; 1982.
  • Longaker C. Facing Death and Finding Hope. New York, NY: Doubleday; 1997.
  • Nuland S. How We Die. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf; 1994.
  • Rimpoche S. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 1992.
  • Sharp J. Living Our Dying. New York, NY: Hyperion; 1996.
  • Singh, K.D. The Grace in Dying. New York, NY: HarperCollins; 1998.

Interested in joining an APTA Oncology Special Interest Group (SIG)?

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