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Prescribing for nausea in palliative care: a cross-sectional national survey of Australian palliative medicine doctors

Prescribing for nausea in palliative care: a cross-sectional national survey of Australian palliative medicine doctors

Journal of Palliative Medicine 17(9): 1032-1036

Nausea can be a debilitating symptom for patients with a life-limiting illness. While addressing reversible components, nonpharmacological strategies and antiemetics are the main therapeutic option. The choice of medication, dose, and route of administration remain highly variable. The aim of this study was to codify the current clinical approaches and quantify any variation found nationally. A cross-sectional study utilizing a survey of palliative medicine clinicians examined prescribing preferences for nausea using a clinical vignette. Respondent characteristics, the use of nonpharmacological interventions, first- and second-line antiemetic choices, commencing and maximal dose, and time to review were collected. Responding clinicians were predominantly working in palliative medicine across a range of settings with a 49% response rate (105/213). The main nonpharmacological recommendation was "small, frequent snacks." Metoclopramide was the predominant first-line agent (69%), followed by haloperidol (26%), while second-line haloperidol was the predominant agent (47%), with wide variation in other nominated agents. Respondents favoring metoclopramide as first-line tended to use haloperidol second-line (65%), but not vice versa. Maximal doses for an individual antiemetic varied up to tenfold. For nausea, a commonly encountered symptom in palliative care, clinicians' favored metoclopramide and haloperidol; however, after these choices, there was large variation in antiemetic selection. While most clinicians recommended modifying meal size and frequency, use of other nonpharmacological therapies was limited.

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Accession: 055139944

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PMID: 25153165

DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0610

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