The following is a summary of “Relieving Perception of Thirst and Xerostomia in Patients with Palliative and End-of-life Care Needs: A Rapid Review,” published in the JULY 2023 issue of Pain Management by Hammond, et al.
Thirst and dry mouth are closely related symptoms that often cause significant distress for patients with life-limiting conditions. For a study, researchers sought to identify and summarize effective interventions for relieving perceptions of thirst and dry mouth in patients with palliative and end-of-life care needs.
The review included studies conducted in clinical settings involving patients experiencing thirst-related distress and/or dry mouth. The review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) reporting guidelines. The primary outcomes of interest were the efficacy of interventions for relieving thirst and dry mouth in patients and the acceptability and satisfaction of these interventions for patients, caregivers, and staff. Scientific journal articles were obtained through searches in electronic databases, including MEDLINE (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), and AgeLine (EBSCO).
A total of eleven studies were included for analysis and synthesis of the results. Most studies focused on interventions for dry mouth or included dry mouth outcomes as part of a broader thirst intervention (9 out of 11 studies). Standard oral care was the most common intervention type (5 out of 11 studies). Almost all dry mouth interventions reported statistically significant improvements in the outcomes of interest. Studies addressing thirst were conducted exclusively in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) settings (4 out of 4). No studies specifically addressed thirst in patients receiving specialist palliative care.
The evidence from the study suggested that thirst interventions established within ICU settings may be effective for treating terminally ill patients receiving specialist palliative care. However, more research was needed to investigate interventions specifically targeting thirst in patients in specialist palliative care settings.