AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To examine disease-related stress, coping strategies and the need for information and support in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease).
BACKGROUND: Psychological stress is an important factor in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and therefore coping strategies and support needs should be considered in routine clinical practice.
DESIGN: This is a qualitative study using a descriptive interview-based approach.
METHOD: Fifteen patients with ulcerative colitis (n=7) or Crohn's disease (n=8) were interviewed. The interviews were analysed with content analysis.
RESULTS: The informants largely focused on disease-related stress (e.g., access to a toilet, symptoms and worries) and relations to other people (various reactions from others and social situations). Behavioural strategies (i.e. taking actions and the need for making plans, prepare and adapt), social strategies (seeking help and information and sharing feelings about the disease with others) and emotional strategies (distraction, positive attitude and acceptance) was adopted to cope with the stress associated with the disease. The need for information and support concerned instrumental support (disease-related information) and emotional support (to talk about disease management).
CONCLUSION: Faecal urgency and the fear of losing bowel control are important stressors for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The patients handle this problem using various coping strategies depending on the type of stressful events. Both instrumental and emotional support were requested which primarily occurred at the time of diagnosis and disease flare ups. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.