Vol 15, No 2 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-02-19

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Acquaintance, attitude, practices and challenges of palliative oral care among healthcare professionals: A cross-sectional survey at a tertiary healthcare institute in India

Rebecca Chowdhry1, Hanif Abdul Rahman2, Priyanka Mishra1, Suresh Kumar Sharma3, Srinivas Gosla Reddy1, Sachinjeet Kaur Sodhi Dhaliwal2, Jagjit Singh Dhaliwal12
Palliat Med Pract 2021;15(2):108-116.


Introduction: To assess knowledge, experiences, perceptions and barriers of healthcare professionals regarding oral palliative care.

Material and methods: The study involved 150 participants working at a tertiary healthcare institute in India. The data collection tool was pretested and self-administered with sections on demographics, knowledge, attitude and practices, patient referral, perspectives, and barriers to oral palliative care.

Results: The majority of participants 142 (94.6%) believed that palliative care patients need oral care, 85 (68.6%) participants had treated palliative care patients with dental problems. However, 60 (40%) had not received formal training for assessment and referral of patients with oral problems; 95 (63.4%) had never used tools to assess oral conditions of palliative care patients. According to 69 (46%), the best method to maintain oral hygiene is rinsing with saline and 81 (54%) expected physicians to be responsible for oral care of palliative care patients. The main challenges in providing oral care were lack of proper guidelines listed by 117 (78%) and lack of formal training indicated by 60 (40%) respondents.

Conclusions: This study highlighted the need for effective assessment of the mouth and appropriate oral care. Training of healthcare professionals, educating families and patients with oral palliative care are necessary to effectively manage oral symptoms. An appropriate patient follow-up and care delivery system should be structured at comprehensive cancer centres, which can improve the quality of life and compliance of patients. There is a need for the development of assessment tools and referral practices for providing relief, comfort and consolation to patients and families.

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Palliative Medicine in Practice