BACKGROUND: A significant proportion of patients undergoing chemotherapy for many cancer types may experience oral problems, such as mucositis and any deterioration in the health of the oral cavity can have a significant effect on a person's well-being. Trends towards shorter hospital stays and the increase in out-patient chemotherapy mean that patients are required to adopt increasingly participatory roles in their self-care and are subsequently coping with mouth problems while they are at home without the direct support of oncology health professionals.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of an oral care diary by patients receiving chemotherapy.
DESIGN: An oral care diary was developed to incorporate oral assessment using the Oral Assessment Guide (Eilier, J., Berger, A., Peterson, M., 1988. Development, testing and application of the oral assessment guide. Oncology Nurse Forum 15, 325-330) and guidance about oral self-care. This exploratory study utilised purpose designed pre- and post-study questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to evaluate patients' perceptions and experiences of the oral care diary.
SETTING: The study took place in 2-day chemotherapy units in Scotland: 1 in a cancer centre and 1 in a district general hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: A consecutive sample of patients (n=45) receiving out-patient chemotherapy for a range of cancer diagnoses participated in the study over 2 cycles of chemotherapy.
METHODS: Following recruitment, patients were instructed in the use of the oral care diary to assess their mouth daily while at home on a daily basis. Patients were asked to complete 2 structured purpose designed questionnaires-the first prior to starting diary completion and the second following their participation in the study. Nine patients participated in semi-structured interviews to explore their actual experiences of using the oral care diary in more depth.
RESULTS: The participants found the oral care diary acceptable and feasible. Awareness of oral symptoms and related mouth self-care post-chemotherapy improved.
CONCLUSIONS: The oral care diary is an acceptable and feasible method of enhancing oral self-care during a course of chemotherapy. Further study is required to evaluate its impact on clinical outcomes.
- oral care
- patient's perspectives