Research: FLETCHER and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 163

Abstract

FLETCHER and COLLEAGUES, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.  pfletcher@wlu.ca explored the lived experiences of women diagnosed with the GI disorders of IBD and/or IBS and focused on the strategies that women used for coping with such a diagnosis.

Background

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are 2 gastrointestinal (GI) disorders that are chronic, are debilitating, and diminish quality of life and have no known aetiology. Persons with IBD and/or IBS share similar signs and symptoms, although IBS does not result in intestinal inflammation/alteration or increase one's risk for colorectal cancer as does IBD. The literature reports different mechanisms by which to cope with a GI disorder; however, few studies have focused on the life experiences/coping abilities from the perspective of those who have a GI disorder. As such, exploring the lived experiences of women diagnosed with IBD and/or IBS would provide information about coping strategies from the perspective of those affected, which in turn would be useful for other individuals affected by these conditions and individuals treating patients with GI disorders.

Methodology

Eight women diagnosed with IBD and/or IBS were recruited from a university in southern Ontario, Canada. Each woman completed a background questionnaire, an e-mail interview, and a face-to-face interview. These data were subsequently analyzed for trends using phenomenology to direct the analysis.

Results

Women reported using a number of strategies to help them cope with their diagnosis of IBD or IBS: positive attitude, support, controlling the situation and surroundings, distraction/ignoring the problem, relaxation techniques, and education/knowledge.

Conclusion

This research enables women to share their experiences concerning their coping strategies used in the management of IBD and/or IBS. The qualitative nature of this study provides the 'voice' of women who have a GI disorder, which is often lacking in the literature, thus providing healthcare professionals with insight into the feelings and experiences of these women. The inability to understand the experiences of individuals with chronic conditions can act as a barrier in the treatment and interaction/rapport between healthcare professional and client.

References

Fletcher PC, Schneider MA, Van Ravenswaay V and Leon Z. I am doing the best that I can!: Living with inflammatory bowel disease and/or irritable bowel syndrome (part II). Clinical Nurse Specialist. 22(6): 278-85. Nov-Dec 2008.

Comment

Readers are referred to Krystal Weir's first-hand account of her surgery for Crohn's disease in Issue 163: www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=2672

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