Oral Care of Palliative Care Patients - Carers' and Relatives' Experiences. A Qualitative Study.
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Introduction: The oral cavity, in palliative care patients, is commonly the first site of discomfort and loss of function. Oral care, however, is often overlooked for these patients. Palliative oral care is a poorly researched area and the experiences of patients, their carers and relatives are seldom explored. Aims: To explore the oral care experiences of palliative care patients, from the perspective of their carers and/or relatives. Methods: Blogs and discussion forums, on public internet sites, were used as the data source. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Eight blogs and eight discussion forums fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were analysed. Three main themes were identified: symptoms, procedures and emotions. Authors described oral symptoms that they could observe themselves and perceived as being distressing. There was an association between oral care procedures and the oral symptoms observed. However routine oral care procedures were poorly described. Conclusion: The data on oral care provided by the blogs and discussion forums included was scarce. It provided, however, preliminary insights into this poorly researched area. In this group, the importance of oral care for terminally-ill patients was frequently overlooked until the person’s quality of life became compromised by their oral symptomatology.
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