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Palliative Care Content: How to Write It

Not everyone in your audience wants to “live their best life” or “get back to an active lifestyle.” Some simply wish to feel better.

It’s time to turn the spotlight on a health topic that can help them: palliative care. This crash course in palliative care content discusses what this service is (and isn’t), why it’s so tricky to write about — and why you need to.

Stop Ignoring Palliative Care Content

Palliative care services — also called supportive care — impacts patients, helping them have less pain and fewer symptoms. But people may not find enough information about it in your content.

That’s because writing about health topics like this one is wrought with challenges. It’s not a service that provides concrete, positive outcomes, like repairing a heart problem or addressing fertility issues. And people (wrongly) associate palliative care with death and dying, not understanding the full scope of what it offers.

Creating compelling, sensitive palliative care content is worth the effort. Highlighting these crucial services lets patients and caregivers know your organization can provide the appropriate care for them at the right time. Plus, palliative care services are for patients with a variety of serious illnesses, allowing you to impact large segments of your audience.

Dispelling Palliative Care Myths

The first step to writing successful digital content about palliative care is clearing up the misconceptions.

Palliative care eases the burden of a serious illness. Providers can:

  • Treat nagging symptoms, such as pain, nausea and difficulty sleeping
  • Address emotional challenges including anxiety
  • Help patients and their loved ones plan the next steps of care

Palliative care is for patients:

  • Of all ages, read: including children
  • With any life-limiting illness, which may include diabetes, heart problems or liver disease
  • Who need additional support to address challenges that are making their lives difficult

Palliative care is NOT:

  • Only available to older adults
  • A service dedicated to cancer patients
  • Synonymous with hospice care (more on this in a moment)

Tips for Writing Palliative Care Digital Content

Now you’re one step closer to writing successful content. The next step is to address people’s concerns and let them know what to expect.

This approach builds a compelling case in support of palliative care and that people should seek these services from your hospital.

Here are 3 tips to get you started:

1. Providing a definition is good, focusing on patient benefits is better

Include a solid definition of palliative care, which is easier said than done. Trying to summarize a broad range of services that benefit people in a variety of scenarios is tricky. You may end up with a vague definition such as “specialized support for people with serious illness.”

This language is a good start, but you also need to connect the dots. Patients aren’t going to pursue services if they don’t understand the benefit. They want to know, “How can palliative care services make my life better?” Your content should answer this question by offering specific examples of how services relieve what’s going on in their minds and bodies.

Benefits may include:

  • Doctors who explain your diagnosis and answer questions about your future healthcare needs
  • Emotional support to help you cope with depression or other unpleasant feelings you’re experiencing
  • A team of specialists, including social workers, nurses and members of the clergy who help you navigate care decisions

2. Name changes are important: Call it supportive care

The notion that palliative care is for people who are dying is deep-seated, and it’s time for a makeover.

  • Decades ago, palliative care services were born out of the need to relieve suffering in people who were in advanced stages of a terminal illness.
  • Today, palliative care includes a broad range of services and highly skilled specialists to help improve people’s lives.

The term “supportive care” reflects this evolution, and many hospitals are adopting it. Bear in mind, though, that supportive care does not yet perform as well in search as palliative care. So, you’ll want to use “palliative care” to help your pages perform well and also infuse your digital content with mentions of “supportive care.”

3. Tread lightly on the h-word (hospice)

Many people immediately think of hospice when they hear about palliative care services. Hospice services are for people who have less than 6 months to live. Make the distinction clear on your site:

  • Palliative care helps people live well despite having a serious illness.
  • Hospice services help people receive good end-of-life care.

Don’t dwell too long on hospice care or it will negatively impact SEO. Allow users to learn more by linking to hospice services on a separate page.

Having the services on discrete pages clearly distinguishes them from each other. And it will help your content perform well for two strong keywords: “palliative care” and “hospice.”

How to Write About Other Sensitive Healthcare Topics

In our latest eBook, we explain how to craft caring, empathetic copy for 5 tough healthcare topics:

  • Hospice
  • Mental health
  • Palliative care
  • Senior living
  • Vaccines

Download the “Writing About Difficult Healthcare Topics” eBook below for tips and strategies for approaching each of these subjects with sensitivity.

writing about tough topics

 

 

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About Laura Bloom

Laura Bloom, MBA

A 20-plus-year veteran of the healthcare industry, Laura’s previous work includes technical writing and project management roles at UnitedHealth Group, WebMD and a federally funded quality improvement organization. Laura has a passion for helping consumers make informed decisions about their care, which is why she became a content writer.... More >