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Constipation in Palliative Care

Constipation can cause significant pain and discomfort to the individual experiencing it and is one of the most common concerns for patients who are receiving palliative care. This Course focuses on the assessment and management of constipation in palliative care so as to reduce discomfort and improve quality of life.

15 Nov 2016

Learning Outcomes


Explain the significance of constipation in palliative care


Describe how the bowel function of a person receiving palliative care may be assessed


Identify management strategies for constipation in the person with advanced disease



Useful learning activity. Was hoping to hear about those who have no oral intake. In RACFs, nurses are often prompted to administer aperients when a resident hasn't opened their bowels in 3 days however there is a lot of confusion when it comes to palliative residents who are no longer eating as it is believed that they would no longer be producing stools therefore an aperient would be futile? -- 01 Jul 2018
Well explained -- 17 Jun 2018
a good solid foundation learning tool for nurses working with palliative clients. -- 04 Jun 2018
Excellent -- 31 May 2018
I found the content and explanation very comprehensive and easy to understand -- 30 May 2018
Good information -- 29 May 2018
very good -- 26 May 2018
Very enjoyable & informative -- 25 May 2018
excellent -- 24 May 2018
greatly, simply, and well explained. -- 24 May 2018
I learnt alot -- 19 May 2018
Very informative VLA Nd great presentation -- 17 May 2018
I have learned the effective management of constipation in elderly and palliative patients. -- 17 May 2018
This topic was an excellent refresher in reinforcing my current knowledge and evidence based practices. -- 17 May 2018
Thorough and engaging -- 16 May 2018
I enjoyed this course. Very educational and easy to listen to and understand -- 26 Apr 2018
Excellent -- 23 Apr 2018
good -- 18 Apr 2018
Very practical simple steps to follow when assessing and evaluating individual patient needs -- 10 Apr 2018
Informative and well researched area of interest. -- 19 Mar 2018
I would recommend this education to other health professionals -- 14 Mar 2018
This has reinforced which laxative to use & when -- 23 Feb 2018
Concise and articulate presenter. -- 22 Feb 2018
Excellent and very important topic in palliative care setting. I would suggest to spend more time to investigate individuals bowel habit and how can be changed -- 16 Feb 2018
informative -- 25 Jan 2018
Thank you John, A great refresher on constipation management -- 24 Jan 2018
I would recommend this resource for all nurses, particularly those in palliative care. -- 20 Jan 2018
very interesting and informative -- 09 Jan 2018

Course Overview

Topics include:

  • Causes and symptoms of constipation
  • Assessment of bowel function
  • Nursing management of constipation

Target audience

All healthcare professionals, particularly nurses working in palliative care, aged care, and acute and community care settings.


Assist health professionals in the application of best available evidence and expert opinion for the assessment and management of constipation in palliative care.


Constipation is a clinically significant cause of distress for people receiving palliative care and family members who care for them. With the majority of palliative care provided to those over the age of 65, constipation is sure to increase in prevalence. Whether caused by analgesics, impaired mobility, lowered fluid and food input, or disease progression, constipation requires a comprehensive assessment by nurses. With sound assessment, the nurse can identify a constellation of strategies to address the management of constipation in those receiving palliative care. However, there is a need for nursing and medical staff to be more aware of the incidence, causes and effects of constipation, as it is often poorly understood. The need for education in the causes of, approaches to assessment of, and intervention strategies for constipation, is required.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.

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