Measuring the symptomatic, physical, emotional and social impacts of dry mouth: a qualitative study

Barry Gibson, Karthik Periyakaruppiah, Martin Thornhill, Sarah R Baker, Peter Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)


To explore the impacts of dry mouth in order to develop a comprehensive condition specific OHRQoL measure.

Dry mouth has been shown to have significant, if not more severe impacts on OHRQoL, than dental caries. Yet there remain few studies reporting on how to develop a comprehensive measure of the impact of dry mouth on OHRQoL.

This study was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Data were collected from a purposive sample of 17 people with dry mouth (14 women, 3 men). The sample was drawn to capture a comprehensive range of impacts of dry mouth. These interviews were analysed using a framework approach informed by existing functionalist approaches to OHRQoL.

Participants reported a huge range of symptoms associated with perceived dry mouth resulting in extensive impacts on physical, emotional (psychological) and social functioning. Dry mouth could also result in restrictions in social participation which, under some conditions could be disabling. These impacts were modified by psychological, social and environmental factors.

If we are to measure the impacts of oral conditions it is important that this is done systematically and with reference to existing conceptual models of health. Current measures of the impact of dry mouth cover symptoms, discomfort and physical impacts along with some aspects of how people cope with the condition. This study proposes a more comprehensive approach that includes the full range of impacts people experience. Such an approach may enable us to focus on ‘downstream’ and ‘upstream’ interventions for dry mouth.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2019


  • Dry mouth
  • qualitative research
  • Quality of life
  • Xerostomia


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