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) were 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.
Relevance to clinical practice. Patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
ask for information and psychosocial support that are tailored to their individual
needs and at different stages in the disease trajectory to improve everyday life and
strengthen self-management strategies.
John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2016. Vol. 26, 648-657 p.