Perceptions of Patients with Xerostomia about Quality of Life, General and Oral Health: A Qualitative Study

  •  Karina Ramírez-Sepúlveda    
  •  Andres Murillo-Pedrozo    
  •  Daniela Zuluaga-Villegas    
  •  Kristhel Vasco-Grajales    
  •  Adriana Posada-Lopez    
  •  Andrés Agudelo-Suárez    


INTRODUCTION: We aim to explore the perceptions about quality of life and its relationship with general and oral health of adults suffering from Xerostomia

METHODS: A qualitative and exploratory study was conducted from an ethnographic perspective. 22 semi-structured in-depth interviews and one focus group were carried out. Patients were contacted through different institutions and by means of snowball sampling. Furthermore, socio-demographic information was collected and a content narrative analysis was conducted identifying significant text fragments and generating codes and categories.

RESULTS: 6 categories from participants’ discourses were identified: 1) Knowledge about general, oral health and Xerostomia; 2) Determinants of access to health services: access barriers are reflected by poor attention and medical opportunity in appointments, misguided diagnosis and treatments, and difficulties obtaining medications; 3) Definitions of quality of life, health and oral health; 4) Social support and relationships: social support is as perceived by families, institutions and social networks enabling them to meet their health goals and the consequences of these; 5) Practice to overcome dry mouth: Several alternative methods were used when medicines are not a satisfactory solution for each individual; 6) Future aspirations: in some cases, a significant number of the participants expressed fear when thinking about the future, and discourses directly relate with their families. In some cases they expressed not to think about the future and “live and enjoy”.

CONCLUSIONS: Xerostomia affects the quality of life not only from individual systemic conditions, but also through determinants from the social context and the health system.

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