Irritable bowel syndrome has a negative impact on a person's quality of life, but only a few existing studies have been based on patients' own perceptions. This study therefore aimed to collect information on the view of female patients with irritable bowel syndrome regarding what constitutes a good quality of life for them and to create a healthcare model for these patients. For the study, 30 women with irritable bowel syndrome (median age, 38.5 years; range, 20–65 years) responded in writing to a single, all-inclusive question: “What is your perception of a good quality of life?” When the questionnaires were returned, there was time for a short dialogue, and notes of the conversations were made. Data were analyzed qualitatively according to Burnard's method of thematic content analysis. The answers also were counted and thereby quantified.
The women's perception of a good quality of life could be divided into five categories: (a) physical and mental health, (b) social well-being, (c) welfare, (d) strength and energy, and (e) self-fulfillment. According to the results, a healthcare model for patients with irritable bowel syndrome should include four main areas: (a) treatment of the patient's symptoms, (b) confirmation of the patient, (c) confirmation of the diagnosis, and (d) instruction for the patient. The healthcare model should be focused on the primary care level and should include a longitudinal plan of healthcare that also describes the secondary care level.