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A Qualitative Study of Youth Living With Crohn Disease

Lynch, Teresa MHSc, RGON, PG Cert; Spence, Deb PhD, RN, RM

doi: 10.1097/01.SGA.0000324114.01651.65

Little is known about what it is like to live in adolescence with a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. This article reports the findings of a small qualitative study that explored the experience of four New Zealand youth aged between 16 and 21 years, who had been recently diagnosed with Crohn disease. Semistructured interviews focused on discovering the youth' thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of living with this condition. Analysis of the transcribed data is presented thematically. The findings reveal stress as integral to living with Crohn disease. They illuminate the paradoxical relationship between fear and hope and provide insight into what helps and what hinders young people's ability to cope with the disease and its treatments. Collectively, these three themes describe the ways in which the lives of young adults are drastically and almost irreparably changed by Crohn disease. The findings contribute to the “promoting wellness” literature and will inform those who support the increasing number of young people living and coping with a chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

Teresa Lynch, MHSc, RGON, PG Cert, is Charge Nurse Manager, Gastrointestinal Investigative Unit, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Deb Spence, PhD, RN, RM, is Joint Head of Nursing, Division of Health Care Practice, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Correspondence to: Teresa Lynch, MHSc, RGON, PG Cert, Gastrointestinal Investigative Unit, P.O. Box 4710, 2nd Floor Riverside, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand (e-mail:

Received May 3, 2007; accepted August 14, 2007.

© 2008 by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.