Core Modules

Palliative care symptoms should be identified early and through impeccable assessment.[1-3] Initial and ongoing assessment incorporates the person’s physical, psychological, cultural, social and spiritual experiences and needs.[2, 3] A management plan is developed, implemented and evaluated considering individual circumstances and goals of care. Evidence-based palliative care interventions are associated with improvements in quality of life and a reduction in symptom burden.[4-7]

Module 3: Assessing and managing symptoms will help you develop the knowledge and skills required to identify the health needs of people affected by life-limiting illness. This resource will also help to develop an understanding of the principles for managing common symptoms in palliative care.

Case Study: Meet Herbert, a retiree with a history of systolic heart failure. His heart failure has progressed to Class III heart failure and continues  to worsen, requiring assessment and symptom management. Following admission to hospital with pulmonary oedema, he is referred to the local specialist palliative care team.

Case Study: Herbert's Story YouTube Playlist

Aims and Objectives:

After completing this module, you should be able to:

  • Explain the principles for assessing and managing common symptoms and health concerns associated with life-limiting illness
  • Summarise evidence-based pain assessment and management strategies relevant to your profession.

For Educators:

Herbert’s Story case scenario information, videos/audio, thinking points and workbook sections have been collated into a Padlet board for use in self-directed or group learning activities.

Access the padlet here.

Record of Participation



  1. World Health Organization. Definition of Palliative Care. 2017  [cited 2017 March 13]; Available from:
  2. Palliative Care Australia. National Palliative Care Standards. 2018; 5th Edition:[Available from:].
  3. Palliative Care Australia. Palliative Care Service Development Guidelines. 2018; Available from:
  4. Kavalieratos, D., et al., Association Between Palliative Care and Patient and Caregiver Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, 2016. 316(20): p. 2104-2114.
  5. Oliver, D., Improving patient outcomes through palliative care integration in other specialised health services: what we have learned so far and how can we improve? Annals of Palliative Medicine, 2018: p. S219-S230.
  6. Wilkie, D.J. and M.O. Ezenwa, Pain and Symptom Management in Palliative Care and at End of Life. Nursing outlook, 2012. 60(6): p. 357-364.
  7. Murray, S.A., et al., Palliative care from diagnosis to death. BMJ, 2017. 356.