High-quality palliative care also requires special expertise in honest, compassionate communication. In addition to enhancing the patient's and family's experience, these skills help to establish trust and overcome barriers to adequate care and relief of symptoms. Several communication tasks are especially important: conveying accurate prognostic information while maintaining hope, eliciting information about symptoms, decision making about curative and palliative treatments, handling emotions, and dealing with requests from patients and families who have unrealistic goals [34, 35, 36] . The challenges of communicating effectively are discussed later in this course.
Side effects are minimized by taking the lowest doses possible (that still yields positive results) and following doctor's orders. It is important to avoid self-regulation of the dosage, either by adding more or stopping the drug without a schedule. After prolonged use, steroids must be gradually reduced to permit the adrenal glands to resume natural cortisol production. Eliminating doses too quickly can result in glucocorticoid withdrawal symptoms, worsening of underlying inflammatory disease (rebound effect), or rarely, adrenal crisis (a life-threatening state caused by insufficient levels of adrenal steroids).