A context analysis on how oral care is delivered in hospitalised patients: A mixed-methods study

Harm H.J. van Noort*, Ben J.M. Witteman, Ria den Hertog-Voortman, Babette Everaars, Hester Vermeulen, Getty Huisman-de Waal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims and Objectives: To analyse oral care delivery in one hospital through exploring experiences from both nurses’ and patients’ perspectives and examining patients’ oral health. Background: Oral health problems are associated with undernutrition and other general health outcomes. Although oral care belongs to the essentials of nursing, it is often neglected. Improving oral health may require behaviour change of both nurses and patients. Defining tailored strategies need a clear view on the context. Design: A context analysis in one hospital using a convergent parallel mixed-methods design was reported following the EQUATOR guidelines using two checklists: COnsolidated criteria for REporting Qualitative research (qualitative research) and STROBE (observational research). Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 nurses and 11 patients. The topic list was based on the Integrated Change Model. Prospective oral examination was performed among 91 surgical patients using the Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT). Results: Nurses acknowledged that they did not prioritise oral care in daily practice. Furthermore, they lacked knowledge and skills to identify and provide care for oral problems. Nurses mentioned helpful resources to perform oral care, like standardised language and instruments. However, they had no access to or were unaware of them. Patients admitted that they did not prioritise oral care due to their sickness during hospitalisation, were unaware of the importance of oral care, but felt responsible for their oral care. The most prominent oral problems identified with the OHAT were unclean mouths (n = 75, 82%), unhealthy gum and tissues (n = 55, 60%) and dry mouth (n = 42, 46%). Conclusions: This context analysis identified inadequate oral care due to lack of positive attitude and knowledge in both nurses and patients, skills for nurses, and resources. Relevance to Clinical Practice: The behavioural factors indicate strategies for development of a multicomponent intervention to improve oral care in this hospital, nutritional status and general health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1991-2003
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Early online date3 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • fundamental care
  • hospitalised patients
  • interviews
  • mixed methods
  • nondental care professional
  • nursing
  • oral care
  • oral health
  • oral health assessment tool
  • oral hygiene

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