Measurement of thirst in chronic heart failure - A review

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Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2014, 48 (1), pp. 2 - 9
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© eContent Management Pty Ltd. Background: Thirst is a bothersome symptom of chronic heart failure (CHF) which impacts adversely on quality of life. Despite this, limited work has been done to investigate thirst as a symptom or to develop reliable and valid measures of thirst in CHF. The purpose of this manuscript is to establish which tools have been used in research to measure thirst in CHF. Methods: Medline, PubMed, Cumulative Index for Nursing and Allied Health, and Scopus were searched using following key words thirst, heart failure, measure, scale, randomised controlled trials and multicentre studies. Results: The search discovered 37 studies of which 6 studies met the inclusion criteria. One study was a research abstract and five were full-text studies. To date, there are only three measurement tools utilised in studies examining thirst in CHF patients [Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Numeric Rating Scale and Thirst Distress Scale]. Conclusion: Thirst in CHF is measured in a non-systematic way. In recent studies, the VAS has been used to measure thirst intensity. While this measurement tool is very easy and quick to administer, using a uni-dimensional tool in conjunction with a multi-dimensional tool may be beneficial to capture all dimensions of thirst. In order to manage thirst efficiently, consistent measurement of thirst in CHF is vital.
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