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Systematic Review of Nonpharmacologic Approaches for the Management of Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Catherine Cherwin

Lynn Nakad

Alaa Albashayreh

gastrointestinal symptoms, chemotherapy, nonpharmacologic therapies, symptom burden
ONF 2019, 46(1), E1-E21. DOI: 10.1188/19.ONF.E1-E21

Problem Identification: To summarize and critique the literature for nonpharmacologic complementary approaches to manage gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms attributed to chemotherapy.

Literature Search: A literature search was conducted using CINAHL®, MEDLINE®, and PsycINFO® from database inception through January 2018.

Data Evaluation: Studies were independently appraised by each author regarding inclusion eligibility and summary of GI symptom outcomes and the nonpharmacologic complementary intervention.

Synthesis: 57 studies met inclusion criteria. GI symptoms most commonly evaluated as a chemotherapy outcome were nausea and vomiting and nausea alone. GI symptoms infrequently evaluated as outcomes included diarrhea, anticipatory nausea, and dysgeusia. Ten GI symptoms associated with chemotherapy were not evaluated by any study. Nonpharmacologic interventions included 15 different interventions.

Implications for Research: Studies evaluating nonpharmacologic interventions for managing chemotherapy-related GI symptoms have been growing but tend to focus on nausea and vomiting to the exclusion of other relevant GI symptoms. Studies evaluating nonpharmacologic effects on other GI symptoms may make great strides in reducing patient symptom burden.

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