Effectiveness of a novel approach to managing dry mouth in palliative care

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Dry mouth and the sensation of thirst are common and significant symptoms experienced by people with advanced illness, with nearly 80% of patients in palliative care reporting the symptom. Patients described thirst as a constant and overwhelming experience, causing distress and pain. This randomised cross-over study explores a novel approach to providing relief for palliative care patients with an advanced illness in a Hospice setting, experiencing the symptoms dry mouth and thirst.

The current management strategies for alleviating the symptom of dry mouth are limited and lack a strong evidence base, particularly in palliative care settings. This study examined the effectiveness of a novel approach to alleviating the intensity and distress associated with dry mouth, by comparing usual mouth care techniques with ice chips made from mint syrup.

The use of mini mint ice cubes for the relief of thirst was established as effective in significantly reducing thirst intensity and distress in palliative patients at Laurel Hospice.

This study has shown that regardless of the randomised treatment, there was an improvement in both the degree of thirst and dry mouth, with greater improvement with the use of mint ice cubes. Of the patient population, 87% expressed that mint ice cubes were more effective and would prefer to continue the use of mint rather than plain ice cubes.

The results from this study demonstrate the efficacy of this intervention for palliative care patients. Further expansion and implementation into other units will comprise a meaningful and novel contribution to the evidence base.

There is potential for significant clinical benefit with little cost and minimal impact to current practice patterns. These findings can be expanded and implanted in other critical care units where patients with an advanced illness can be relieved of such distressing symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventOceanic Palliative Care Conference - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 13 Sept 202315 Sept 2023


ConferenceOceanic Palliative Care Conference
Abbreviated title23OPCC


  • Palliative care
  • Dry mouth


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