Palliative care, and the medical specialty of palliative medicine, is medical care focused on relief of the symptoms and stress of serious illness. It concentrates on maintaining quality of life by controlling pain and distressing physical symptoms. It also looks at the emotional, social or spiritual needs that people may have. It supports both the patient and their family caregivers.
Palliative care is an important public health issue. The World Health Organization defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.