Some serious chronic medical illnesses, such as certain cancers or AIDS, cause significant suffering and impair quality of life. Palliative care is therapy that focuses on decreasing pain and suffering by providing treatments for relief of symptoms along with comfort and support for patients of all ages. Palliative care uses a team approach that involves the treating doctor, the family, and other health care professionals and social services. Hospice care, which involves helping ill individuals and their families during the last period of life, is often an important part of palliative care.The September 20, 2006, issue of JAMA contains an article about spiritual issues in the care of dying patients. This Patient Page is adapted from one previously published in the March 16, 2005, issue of JAMA.