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“One Flare at a Time”

Adaptive and Maladaptive Behaviors of Women Coping With Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Skrastins, Olivia BA; Fletcher, Paula C. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000229
Feature Article

Purpose: The purpose of this investigation is to study the lived experiences of female postsecondary students diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and/or irritable bowel syndrome.

Methods: Nine women between the ages of 18 and 26 years were recruited to participate in this study. Participants completed an informed consent form and background questionnaire before completing a semi-structured one-on-one interview. This interview explored the lived experiences of these individuals in relation to condition management.

Results: Three salient themes that emerged from the data included (1) it can add to my life; (2) why me: my condition runs my life; and (3) I'm doing the best I can with what I have. The salient theme of I'm doing the best I can with what I have, the theme addressed in this article, was subdivided into adaptive and maladaptive coping behaviors. Reasons for the use of these behaviors included to avoid triggers or flare-ups/harmful effects, to achieve instant relief/pleasure, to respond to environmental pressures, and to become accustomed to dealing with the everyday hassles of their conditions.

Conclusion: Community health nurses may become part of the solution to help women with inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome find more adaptive coping behaviors. Other implications are discussed.

Author Affiliations: Undergraduate Student (Ms Skrastins); Professor and Graduate Coordinator (Dr Fletcher), Department of Kinesiology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Olivia Skrastins, BA, Kinesiology, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University W, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 (;;

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