Friday, October 10, 2008

'The Journal'

As many of you know, 'The Journal' in the US for hospice and palliative medicine will soon be changing from the Journal of Palliative Medicine to the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. By this I mean the official journal of AAHPM is changing in 2009 from JPM to JPSM. I assume this will be a controversial move. Before I say more:

Major conflicts of interest disclosure: 1) my boss was the founding editor of JPM (David Weissman), 2) I am a sort-of section editor for JPM (Fast Facts), 3) the copy-editor of JPM has an office right across the hall from me and we yell (across the hall) at each other all day, and 4) I've had a couple of small things published in JPM (and not JPSM).
Writing, however, as a reader and a palliative care clinician I wanted to note simply my sadness, and I guess confusion, about this. It's lame, and probably geeky of me, but I feel like I'm mourning something here....

JPM has really become the world's premiere palliative care journal (yes this is just an opinion, and admittedly an American-centric one) in a little over a decade and we've all watched it balloon in size (girth) and number (issues per year) as the profession and come into its own in the US. There are other journals which publish excellent material relevant to my practice but nothing with the consistency and quality that JPM has achieved, particularly in recent years. I assume (and the press release I linked to above promises) that in fact JPSM will change its content and focus to better serve the needs of HPM professionals and I look forward to that. It won't however change the fact that this new specialty in American medicine will now be represented by a journal whose name captures only half of what we do*** - pain and symptom management. The other half - the fragile, somewhat tough-to-define aspects of our clinical lives - the careful communication, psychosocial-existential care, family and bereavement care, goals clarification, the witness-to-suffering, this nexus of skills and approaches brought to patients with severe illnesses which has come to be known as palliative care and palliative medicine - is lost.

It's just a title of course, and with a good journal with good articles it won't matter too much, and I look forward to two premiere palliative care journals. As an Academy member JPSM will be arriving in my mailbox early 2009 I guess - I'll be signing up for JPM here.

***Addendum October 13, 2008: The Academy announcement I linked to above does say that they plan on eventually changing the title of JPSM which is good news (I completely missed this in the announcement - another palliative care lesson for me in how grief can cloud one's ability to take in information...!).

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