The prevalence of constipation among patients in palliative care has varied in prior research, from 18% to 90%, depending on study factors.
The aim of this study was to describe and explore the prevalence and symptom distress of constipation, using different definitions of constipation, in patients admitted to specialized palliative care settings.
Data was collected in a cross-sectional survey from 485 patients in 38 palliative care units in Sweden. Variables were analyzed using logistic regression and summarized as odds ratio (OR).
The prevalence of constipation varied between 7% and 43%, depending on the definition used. Two constipation groups were found: (1) medical constipation group (MCG): =3 defecations/week, n=114 (23%) and (2) perceived constipation group (PCG): patients with a perception of being constipated in the last two weeks, n=171 (35%). Three subgroups emerged: patients with (1) only medical constipation (7%), (2) only perceived constipation (19%), and (3) both medical and perceived constipation (16%). There were no differences in symptom severity between groups; 71% of all constipated patients had severe constipation.
The prevalence of constipation may differ, depending on the definition used and how constipation is assessed. In this study we found two main groups and three subgroups, analyzed from the definitions of frequency of bowel movements and experience of being constipated. To be able to identify constipation, the patients' definition has to be further explored and assessed.
Constipation is a common and well-studied symptom in palliative care. Most previous studies have focused on the frequency and management of constipation. The current study aimed to investigate the lived experience of constipation among cancer patients in palliative hospital-based home care. Eleven cancer patients admitted to a hospital-based home care unit in Sweden who had experienced constipation participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and a qualitative, phenomenological approach was used. Three themes emerged: bodily suffering; mental preoccupation and a reminder of death; and avoidance and social isolation. The experience of constipation was described as an extensive complete person-experience that must be prevented. To prevent unnecessary suffering nurses need to be proactive in the assessment of constipation.
Honesty is essential for the care of seriously ill and dying patients. The current study aimed to describe how nurses experience honesty in their work with patients receiving palliative care at home. The interviews in this phenomenological study were conducted with 16 nurses working with children and adults in palliative home-based care. Three categories emerged from analyses of the interviews: the meaning of honesty, the reason for being honest and, finally, moral conflict when dealing with honesty. The essence of these descriptions was that honesty is seen as a virtue, a good quality that a nurse should have. The nurses' ethical standpoint was shown in the moral character they show in their work and in their intention to do good. This study could help nurses to identify different ways of looking at honesty to promote more consciousness and openness in ethical discussions between colleagues and other staff members.