Healthcare Providers’ Experiences with Hiccups in Patients with Cancer: Report of a United States National Survey

Jana Wieland, Nichole Martin, Aminah Jatoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hiccups occur in 15-40% of cancer patients, but previous research has not sought the perspectives of cancer healthcare providers. The objective of this research is to report on United States cancer healthcare providers’ awareness of their patients’ hiccups and these healthcare providers' perceived need for further palliation options. A survey was developed and then distributed throughout the United States via email to cancer healthcare providers; results are reported descriptively. Six hundred eighty-four cancer healthcare providers completed 2 eligibility screening questions which required them to have cared for an adequate number of patients (> 10 in the past 6 months) with “clinically significant” hiccups (defined as hiccups that persisted for >48 hours or occurred from cancer or from cancer care). Of 113 eligible healthcare providers, 90 completed the survey. Healthcare providers described hiccups as associated with stress/anxiety, fatigue, sleep problems, and decreased work/school productivity. In 49% of patients, healthcare providers initially prescribed medications (commonly chlorpromazine or baclofen); 18% expressed dissatisfaction with current palliation. Proffered comments included, “When current therapies do not work, it can be very demoralizing to our patients; ” and “…my biggest complaint is that current treatments also come with their own side effects which can be quite severe.” Discordance appears to exist between the percentage of cancer patients with hiccups and the percentage of cancer healthcare providers with awareness of their patients’ hiccups. Nonetheless, healthcare providers described notable hiccup-associated symptoms in their patients and a need for more palliative options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-880
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • cancer
  • hiccups
  • interventions
  • palliation
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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