This chapter aims to highlight the role that third sector organizations (foundations, associations of patients’ relatives, users associations, voluntary organizations, social cooperatives and other) play in the context of the Italian network of palliative care. It starts with an analysis of the profound demographic and social changes, which have modified substantially the structure and composition of the population in advanced Western countries. Secondly, data on third sector organizations working in health and social assistance sector, arising from II^ Census on Nonprofit Institutions by Istat, are presented and interpreted. Thirdly, it detects and illustrates the major networks (second level organizations) grouping third sector organizations active in the field of palliative care in Italy. Finally, the paper analyzes the consistency of third sector organizations in both domiciliary and residential palliative care services delivering in Italy. The chapter ends with the recognition of the crucial (key) role played by third sector organizations in the palliative care system in Italy.
Keywords: Terzo settore; cure palliative; organizzazioni non profit; sanità; politiche sociali; stato sociale.