Artificial hydration at the end of life: balancing benefits and risks in the absence of conclusive evidence
evidence and practice    

Artificial hydration at the end of life: balancing benefits and risks in the absence of conclusive evidence

Paul Beland Hospice Specialist Nurse, St Nicholas Hospice, Bury St Edmunds, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To update your knowledge of the latest evidence regarding artificial hydration at the end of life

  • To enhance your awareness of the benefits and risks associated with the use of artificial hydration at the end of life

  • To understand the ethical issues and family concerns related to the withdrawal or withholding of artificial hydration in patients who are dying

There is a lack of clear evidence regarding the benefits and harm of artificial hydration at the end of life. Trial findings are conflicting and inconclusive, offering little basis for recommendations. As a result, the advantages and disadvantages of artificial hydration remain largely anecdotal, and decisions about its use, withholding or withdrawal are often based on opinion rather than evidence. In certain circumstances, some patients who are dying might derive benefit from artificial hydration in terms of reducing specific symptoms, such as delirium. This article explores the central questions pertaining to artificial hydration at the end of life by undertaking a critical exploration of the relevant literature.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11595

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

paul.beland@stnh.org.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Beland P (2020) Artificial hydration at the end of life: balancing benefits and risks in the absence of conclusive evidence. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11595

Published online: 02 September 2020

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Try 1 month’s access for just £1 and get:

Your subscription package includes:
  • Full access to nursingstandard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • The monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal
Subscribe
Already subscribed? Log in

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now

Or