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Dexmedetomidine and clonidine in palliative medicine: multicentric qualitative evaluation


Objectives Alpha-2 agonists have analgesic and sedative properties that can prove interesting in palliative care. The main objective of this study was to describe the use of clonidine and dexmedetomidine in palliative care units (PCU). The secondary objective was to identify physicians’ perspectives and attitudes toward alpha-2-agonists.

Methods International multicentric qualitative survey of prescribing characteristics and attitudes towards alpha-2 agonist. All 159 PCUs in France, Belgium and French-speaking Switzerland were contacted, and 142 physicians answered the questionnaire (31% participation).

Results 20% of the practitioners surveyed prescribe these molecules are mainly for analgesic and sedative indications. There was considerable heterogeneity in the modalities and dosages of administration. The use of clonidine is more frequent and common in Belgium, while dexmedetomidine is only used in France. There is a high level of satisfaction among practitioners who use these molecules, with the desire of the majority of respondents to obtain additional studies and information on alpha-2-agonists.

Conclusion Alpha-2 agonists are little known and little prescribed by French-speaking palliative care physicians but are of interest because of their potential in this field. Phase 3 studies could justify the use of these molecules in palliative situations and would contribute to harmonising professional practices.

  • symptoms and symptom management
  • hospital care
  • end of life care
  • drug administration

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