Consensus Recommendations for the Management of Constipation in Patients with Advanced, Progressive Illness
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Constipation is a highly prevalent and distressing symptom in patients with advanced, progressive illnesses. Although opioids are one of the most common causes of constipation in patients with advanced, progressive illness, it is important to note that there are many other potential etiologies and combinations of causes that should be taken into consideration when making treatment decisions. Management approaches involve a combination of good assessment techniques, preventive regimens, appropriate pharmacological treatment of established constipation, and frequent monitoring. In this vulnerable patient population, maintenance of comfort and respect for individual preferences and sensitivities should be overriding considerations when making clinical decisions. This consensus document was developed by a multidisciplinary group of leading Canadian palliative care specialists in an effort to define best practices in palliative constipation management that will be relevant and useful to health care professionals. Although a wide range of options exists to help treat constipation and prevent its development or recurrence, there is a limited body of evidence evaluating pharmacological interventions. These recommendations are, therefore, based on the best of the available evidence, combined with expert opinion derived from experience in clinical practice. This underscores the need for further clinical evaluation of the available agents to create a robust, evidence-based foundation for treatment decisions in the management of constipation in patients with advanced, progressive illness.
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