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What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

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Medically reviewed by Kathryn Kirkland, M.D.

Infographic Whatu2019s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?. Click the image to open the PDF

Palliative care

  • Is a form of specialized care to help people with serious illnesses and their families live as well as they can

  • Focuses on managing or reducing pain and other symptoms and offers other interventions aimed to improve quality of life

  • Can be used alongside medical treatments meant to cure the illness, and can help patients understand their treatment options and make choices about treatment that are aligned with their goals and values 

  • Can be helpful at any stage of serious illness

  • Does not have a set length of care and depends on what you need and what insurance will cover (if you have insurance)

Who makes up a palliative care team?


Team members work together to provide whole-person care, in collaboration with the patient’s other healthcare providers.

Palliative care can be given in a:

Hospice care

Hospice care can be given in a:

  • Patient’s home

  • Hospice center

  • Nursing home

  • Hospital (uncommonly)

Who makes up a hospice care team?


Did you know? Hospice doesn’t mean stopping all treatments — just the ones (like chemotherapy for cancer) meant to cure an illness. 


  • For people with serious illness

  • Help manage symptoms and make decisions that align with their goals

  • Offer physical and emotional support to patients and families 

  • May be covered by Medicare or other insurance 

Palliative only:

Hospice only:

To find hospice and palliative care near you, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. 

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