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The psychological challenges of living with an ileostomy : an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Smith, Jonathan A.; Spiers, Johanna; Simpson, Phillip; Nicholls, Adam R.; Nicholls, Adam; Smith, Jonathan


Jonathan A. Smith

Johanna Spiers

Phillip Simpson

Adam R. Nicholls


Objectives: Ileostomy, in which the small intestine is re-directed out of an abdominal wall so that waste is collected using a bag, is used to treat conditions including Inflammatory Bowel Disease and colorectal cancer. This paper reports an in depth idiographic analysis of the experience of living with an ileostomy. Methods: 21 participants took part in semi-structured interviews about their lives and relationships. Those interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the experiential qualitative methodology Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Two super-ordinate themes arose from the data: Ileostomy’s intra-personal impact; the impact of ileostomy on relationships with others. We found that ileostomy may destabilise the sense of self, disrupt body image, and alter experience of age and sexuality. Other participants were able to employ their illness to positively reframe the self. Disclosure of ileostomy status was difficult for some. Intimate and friend relationships were often challenged by stoma status, whilst other family relationships were largely characterised as supportive. Conclusions: Ileostomy may impact upon both intra and interpersonal aspects of the lives of those who live with it, in both negative and positive ways. Consequently, the sense of self can appear challenged, and relationships with partners, family members and friendships could be causes of distress. On the other hand, some partners were supportive, and children were found to be sources of comfort.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 1, 2017
Journal Health psychology
Print ISSN 0278-6133
Electronic ISSN 0278-6133
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 2
Pages 143-151
Keywords Ileostomy, Phenomenology, Qualitative, Relationships, Self
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2017 University of Hull
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Health psychology, 2017, v.36 issue 2.


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