Oral care of critically ill patients: practice of attending nurses at the university of Benin Teaching Hospital

  • J.E. Enabulele
  • K.U. Tobi


Background: Oral care has been rated as a basic nursing care activity which provides respite and comfort to patients, who due to critical illness cannot perform this activity themselves. Oral care practices vary widely with attending nurses providing different level of care at varying frequency.Research in health care practitioners’oral care practices, especially the practices of nurses and respiratory therapists has been advocated. Hence, this study aimed at assessing oral care practice among nurses attending to critically ill patients.

Methods: This was a cross sectional, questionnaire-based study of the oral care practices of critically ill patients among attending nurses in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Selfadministered questionnaires were distributed to nurses of different cadre and years of experiences in the ICU, stroke ward and neuro-surgical wards. Data collected was analyzed using SPSS version 17.0 (Chicago, IL.). Pearson’s coefficient of correlation analysis was performed to establish relationship between various variables with the significant level set at p < 0.05.

Results: A total of 54 nurses participated in this study with a male female ratio of 1:3.5.All the participants agreed that good nursing care includes oral care. Less than half (48.1%) provided oral care when needed (PRN) and 29.6% provided oral care on a 12-hourly basis. There was no statistically significant relationship between the frequency of rendering oral care to critically ill patients and the cadre of the respondents. Only 7.4% reported that they rendered oral care following prescription by the attending physician and during exigencies.

Conclusion: Oral care as depicted in this study may probably be inadequate for effectively removing dental plaque in critically ill patients. There is need for conscientious efforts to make a change in oral care practice of the critically ill with the institution of a standardized protocol for the overall benefit of the patient.

Keywords: critically ill, oral care, nurses


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eISSN: 1596-6569