The lived experience of constipation in cancer patients in palliative hospital-based home care

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2004 Jul;10(7):321-5. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2004.10.7.14570.


Constipation is a common and well-studied symptom in palliative care. Most previous studies have focused on the frequency and management of constipation. The current study aimed to investigate the lived experience of constipation among cancer patients in palliative hospital-based home care. Eleven cancer patients admitted to a hospital-based home care unit in Sweden who had experienced constipation participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and a qualitative, phenomenological approach was used. Three themes emerged: bodily suffering; mental preoccupation and a reminder of death; and avoidance and social isolation. The experience of constipation was described as an extensive complete person-experience that must be prevented. To prevent unnecessary suffering nurses need to be proactive in the assessment of constipation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Constipation / nursing
  • Constipation / psychology
  • Home Care Services, Hospital-Based
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Palliative Care
  • Sweden