A Novel Approach to Managing Thirst and Dry Mouth in Palliative Care: A Prospective Randomized Cross-Over Trial

Caroline Phelan, Lauren Hammond, Courtney Thorpe, Peter Allcroft, Muireann O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Context: Thirst and xerostomia are significant and highly distressing symptoms experienced by patients receiving palliative and end-of-life care. 

Objectives: Determine a reduction of thirst intensity and perceptions of dry mouth on a numerical scale following both the experimental intervention (mini mint ice cubes) and control (plain ice chips). 

Methods: Cross-over Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to assess the effectiveness of novel intervention in the treatment of dry mouth and the sensation of thirst in palliative care patients. 

Results: Patients rated the severity of their symptoms of dry mouth and thirst using a numeric rating scale (NRS). On commencing the study and preintervention, all patients suffered severe dry mouth and thirst (≥5/10). Mint and plain ice cubes produced improvement of symptoms immediately after interventions. Results from dry mouth ratings show, a decrease of 1.6 points for plain ice cubes (P < 0.0001), on average, ratings for mint ice cubes decreased 3.7 (P < 0.0001). For the sensation of thirst, the plain ice cube intervention group rating decreased 1.7 points (P < 0.006), ratings for mint ice cubes decreased 3.4 points (P < 0.0001). The average decrease in dry mouth and thirst intensity scores from preintervention to postintervention were significantly greater for mint ice cubes (P < 0.05) and 86.6% of patients preferred mint ice cubes. 

Conclusion: This trial found that while usual mouth care and the intervention were both able to reduce the intensity of dry mouth and the sensation of thirst, the mint intervention had a greater response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-594.e2
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume66
Issue number5
Early online date9 Aug 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • end-of-life
  • oral care
  • palliative
  • Thirst
  • xerostomia

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