Relieving Perception of Thirst and Xerostomia in Patients with Palliative and End-of-life Care Needs: A Rapid Review

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Thirst and dry mouth are interlinked symptoms that frequently cause significant distress for patients with life-limiting conditions.

Objectives: The objective of this rapid review was to identify and synthesise effective interventions that relieve perceptions of thirst and dry mouth of patients with palliative care and end-of-life care needs.

Methods: Eligible studies were undertaken in clinical settings, with patients experiencing thirst-related distress and/or dry mouth. This review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted following aspects of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) reporting guidelines. The main outcomes of interest were:1) efficacy of thirst and dry mouth interventions for patient, and 2) patient, caregiver, and staff acceptability and satisfaction of the interventions. Scientific journal articles were retrieved through searches in electronic databases of MEDLINE (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), and AgeLine (EBSCO).

Results: Eleven studies were included for analysis and synthesis of the results. Most studies either focussed on a dry mouth intervention or reported dry mouth outcomes within a broader thirst intervention (n=9/11 studies). Standard oral care was the common intervention type (n=5/11). All but one dry mouth intervention reported statistical improvement in outcomes of interested. All studies that reported on thirst were conducted in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) setting (n=4/4). No studies specifically addressed thirst in patients in specialist palliative care settings.

Conclusion: Evidence from this review suggests that thirst interventions established within the ICU setting may prove effective for treatment of terminally ill patients receiving specialist palliative care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e45-e68
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Rapid review
  • xerostomia
  • thirst
  • end-of-life
  • palliative


Dive into the research topics of 'Relieving Perception of Thirst and Xerostomia in Patients with Palliative and End-of-life Care Needs: A Rapid Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this