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Title: Opioids and constipation therapy in the last week of life: Their impact on patients, caregivers, and the location of death
Authors: Ribeiro, Hugo 
Magalhães, Júlia
Cardoso, Tatiana 
Chaves-Castro, Isabel
Lopes-Mota, Carla
Costa, Elisabete 
Rocha, Patrícia da 
Lopes, Luísa
Bouça, Ângela
Pereira, Cristina 
Paulo Andrade, José
Dourado, Marília 
Keywords: caregivers; end of life care; palliative care; opioid; pain management; constipation
Issue Date: 20-Jan-2023
Publisher: Wolters Kluwer Health
Serial title, monograph or event: Medicine (United States)
Volume: 102
Issue: 3
Abstract: The use of opioids to control pain at the end of life may cause constipation, a symptom that can negatively influence the well-being of patients and caregivers. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of constipation on symptomatic control and patients' overall quality of life at this stage. A particular focus was placed on opioids. We also intended to investigate whether constipation and caregiver fatigue is related to the place of death (hospital vs home). The approach of 121 patients followed in 2021 in their last week of life by a home team specialized in palliative care was analyzed in an observational, retrospective, non-interventional study. The patients were followed up for an average of 39.7 days. A total of 82.6% wished to die at home, which occurred in 74% of the cases. The constipation prevention protocol reduced constipation by 55.1%. It seems that morphine is more related with constipation and tapentadol seems to reduce constipation induced by opioids. Patients tended to die in hospitals when their caregivers were exhausted; however, it was not possible to determine a cutoff point using the Zarit scale, which was used to assess caregiver burden. Constipation in the last week of life does not seem to influence the well-being of patients or their caregivers significantly and the individualization of intensive treatment of constipation is needed. Different opioids have different probabilities of causing adverse effects such as constipation. Future special support mechanisms can be created and activated for the most tired caregivers to avoid exhaustion and promote death at home, if that is the patient's will.
ISSN: 1536-5964
DOI: 10.1097/MD.0000000000032718
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D ICBR - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais
FMUC Medicina - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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