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Objective :To study factors that could predict constipation in critically ill patients.
Design : Descriptive predictive study.
Methodology : This study was conducted on 102 critically ill patients recruited by means of purposive sampling. The participants were at least 18 years old, and had been in the ICU for at least 4 days. Data were collected using 1) a personal information recording form; 2) a factor recording form; and 3) a constipation scale. Hierarchical regression was employed for data analysis.
Result: The patients’ intake of opioid analgesics, serum potassium levels, amounts of food intake through oesophagus, and amounts of physical activity were identifed as capable of jointly predicting up to 46% (R2 = .460) of instances of constipation. The most powerful predictive factor was the amounts of food intake through oesophagus (β = -.495, p < .01), followed by the intake of opioid analgesics (β = .214, p < .01) and amounts of physical activity (β= -.169, p < .05), respectively. The least powerful predictive factor was the level of serum potassium, on the other hand, was capable of predicting only the preliminary stage of constipation (β = -.261, p < .01). However, as no signifcant relationship between ﬂuid balance and constipation was found.
Recommendation: It is recommended that nurses closely monitor constipation in patients having received opioid analgesics and in those with Hypokalemia. In addition, nurses should be prepared to feed the patients as soon as the patients are ready. Nurses are also advised to promote physical activity and bowel movement in the patients, to prevent constipation.
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