Patient experiences with oral mucositis caused by chemo-/radiotherapy: a critical qualitative literature review

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Daniela Zanolin
Christine Widmer
Eva-Maria Panfil *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Eva-Maria Panfil |


Mucositis is one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In order to develop an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the management of tumor therapy-induced-oral mucositis, it was necessary to capture the patients’ perspective. Therefore the aim of this critical literature review was to explore the experience of patients with therapy-induced-oral mucositis. Searches were carried out using a systematic search strategy in CINAHL and Medline. Qualitative studies investigating the view of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy and suffering from oral mucositis were included. Study selection and quality assessment were performed by two independent reviewers. Only two qualitative studies (n=28 patients) met the inclusion criteria. Oral mucositis caused by cancer therapy is associated with serious complications concerning pain, eating, swallowing, speaking, sadness, lack of energy, and distress. Mucositis was described as the worst side effect of cancer therapy. Providing patient-centered care requires understanding the experience and the needs of patients and their families. Mucositis is associated with complex physical, psychological and social consequences. Unfortunately, both studies were performed in different cultural backgrounds and health care systems, so the results cannot simply be transferred to German-speaking countries. Further research is needed to gain a deeper understanding of living with mucositis.

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