"The information that I gained from these modules has completely changed my thinking on how palliative care can be used and integrated into the care and management of my patients with symptomatic chronic disease and not reserved only for the end of their life."

Continuing Education » Module 4 Overview

Module 4: Approaches to Common Symptoms

  • Kim Kuebler DNP,APRN, ANP-BC
  • Candace Harrington, DNP, APRN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC


At the heart of palliative care is the ability to effectively manage the myriad of symptoms that accompany advanced disease. Patients will have experienced the accompanied symptoms of disease long before they are given a life-limited prognosis. The impact of symptom burden and its interference with the patient's quality of life is often the impetus the healthcare team uses when considering the integration of palliative interventions into the patient's medical management.

This module is not intended to be an exhaustive compilation of all symptoms encountered in palliative care. Instead, it provides the nurse with a review of common symptoms that frequently accompany advanced disease and their management. It is important to note that each patient does not follow a specific pattern of physical decline and therefore cannot simply be placed into a care map or algorithm. The nurse should always consider an individual evaluation of the patient's pathophysiology, previous and current interventions, diagnostics and the patient's emotional and spiritual status when considering specific interventions. This information should be used to help guide care and not to dictate practices.

The symptoms discussed include pain, anxiety, anorexia/cachexia, dehydration, dyspnea, confusion/delirium and depression. As in the management of any symptom, one should follow general principles when developing a treatment plan, including a thorough history and physical examination, appropriate diagnostic tests and ongoing clinical evaluation of the efficacy associated with specific interventions.

Module Four Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the reader will be able to:

  1. Review the most common symptoms that accompany advance disease states.
  2. Review pharmacological management of common symptoms and how to promote optimal symptom management.
  3. Identify nonpharmacological interventions in the management of symptoms.
  4. Evaluate the evidence in the management of symptoms in the setting of advanced disease.

Average Test Duration: 1.5 hrs

  1. Begin Approaches to Common Symptoms Module
  2. Take Test