Patients would benefit from improved psychological support services following stoma surgery. These findings were published in Qualitative Health Research.

Fifteen healthcare professionals and 13 patients aged 18 to 29 years who underwent a colostomy/ileostomy, receiving care through the National Health Service stoma care in the United Kingdom were recruited between 2017 and 2018. Participants were interviewed by a social scientist about their experience with psychological support services.

Among the patients in this study, 7 had Crohn disease and 6 had ulcerative colitis. Surgery had taken place between 2 weeks and 5 years previously for ileostomy (n=11) and colostomy (n=2), which were permanent (n=5) or temporary (n=8).


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All patients expressed that following surgery, their symptoms improved; however, most also experienced emotional distress citing difficulties with body image. Not all patients sought professional help for these difficulties, stating they were unsure about navigating the healthcare system.

Among the healthcare professionals participating in this study, 5 were general practitioners, 4 were colorectal surgeons, 3 were gastroenterologists, 2 were stoma care nurses, and 1 was an inflammatory bowel disease nurse.

The responsibility of detecting signs of psychological distress varied across the healthcare professions, in which the specialist physicians did not think this task fell under their purview. General practitioners thought many psychological therapies could be helpful for adjusting to this life-altering surgery.

The study was limited by its sample size and may not be generalizable.

These interviews identified a need for improved psychological support following stoma surgery, identifying 3 categories that needed improvement: commencing psychological support, identifying psychological needs, and mobilizing support.

Reference

Polidano K, Chew-Grahm CA, Farmer AD, Saunders B. Access to psychological support for young people following stoma surgery: exploring patients’ and clinicians’ perspectives. Qual Health Res. Published online November 23, 2020. doi:10.1177/1049732320972338