Course Overview


Constipation can cause significant pain and discomfort to the individual experiencing it and is one of the most common concerns for patients who are receiving palliative care. This Course focuses on the assessment and management of constipation in palliative care so as to reduce discomfort and improve quality of life.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the significance of constipation in palliative care
  • Describe how the bowel function of a person receiving palliative care may be assessed
  • Identify management strategies for constipation in the person with advanced disease

Topics include:

  • Causes and symptoms of constipation
  • Assessment of bowel function
  • Nursing management of constipation

Target audience

All healthcare professionals, particularly nurses working in palliative care, aged care, and acute and community care settings.


Assist health professionals in the application of best available evidence and expert opinion for the assessment and management of constipation in palliative care.


Constipation is a clinically significant cause of distress for people receiving palliative care and family members who care for them. With the majority of palliative care provided to those over the age of 65, constipation is sure to increase in prevalence. Whether caused by analgesics, impaired mobility, lowered fluid and food input, or disease progression, constipation requires a comprehensive assessment by nurses. With sound assessment, the nurse can identify a constellation of strategies to address the management of constipation in those receiving palliative care. However, there is a need for nursing and medical staff to be more aware of the incidence, causes and effects of constipation, as it is often poorly understood. The need for education in the causes of, approaches to assessment of, and intervention strategies for constipation, is required.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.