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Book and Media Reviews
December 24 2008

The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing

JAMA. 2008;300(24):2922-2927. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.874

The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing takes the reader on a scholarly journey into the nature of suffering and the unique and profound role played by the nursing profession in recognizing, alleviating, and bearing witness to suffering. Betty Ferrell and Nessa Coyle, preeminent leaders in nursing, bring their decades of experience and insight to the book's delivery. Together, the authors do justice to the complex topic of suffering and consider the role of nursing with clarity and gravitas. The reader comes to appreciate the prevalence and face of suffering of patients and families and likewise to appreciate the nurses who serve them, whether in critical care units, oncology wards, or geriatric settings. The book was inspired by the pioneering work of Eric Cassell, who raised the medical profession's awareness of suffering and insisted that the relief of suffering is a fundamental obligation of medicine. A wide-ranging and integrative review of the literature, poignant case illustrations, and deeply personal narrative accounts tell the story of human suffering from the nursing perspective. The book demarks and claims the rightful place of nursing at the center of serving patients who suffer and in so doing offers recognition and tribute to the profession of nursing.