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Everyday Life, Healthcare, and Self-Care Management Among People With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Integrative Review of Qualitative Research

Håkanson, Cecilia PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000048

Irritable bowel syndrome is a commonly recognized chronic disease in all healthcare settings. This integrative review investigated current knowledge about adults' illness-related experiences of this disease from the perspectives of everyday life, healthcare, and self-care management. The overarching findings related to everyday life with irritable bowel syndrome were life-limiting experiences of the body-self as unfamiliar and of the body and symptoms as shameful and unpredictable. The limitations manifested as lack of ability to move about freely, fulfill ambitions or commitments at work, maintain social activities, uphold or develop close and/or sexual relationships and parenting, and live a life with spontaneity. Physical condition, knowledge about disease/illness-related matters, and one's own perceived ability to find adequate strategies were significant for the ability of self-care management. Healthcare was experienced as being unsupportive and not providing information and guidance for enabling self-care management. These results suggest a need for controlled intervention trials of healthcare models that take as their point of departure the individual's experience of illness, needs, and life situation, and that enable learning and sharing of illness experiences, combined with the provision of scientific knowledge and advice from healthcare professionals.

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Cecilia Håkanson, PhD, RN, is Researcher and Assistant Director, Palliative Research Centre, Ersta University College and Ersta Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Correspondence to: Cecilia Håkanson, PhD, RN, Palliative Research Centre, Ersta University College, P.O. Box 111 89, SE-100 61 Stockholm, Sweden (

The author thanks professors Joakim Öhlén and Britt-Marie Ternestedt, both of the Palliative Research Centre, Ersta University College and Ersta Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden, for providing critical comments during the manuscript preparation.

The Palliative Research Centre, Ersta University College and Ersta Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden, funded this article.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received January 11, 2013

Accepted February 12, 2013

© 2014 by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.