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Living With Liver Cirrhosis

A Vulnerable Life

Fagerström, Carola, MSc, RN; Frisman, Gunilla Hollman, PhD, CCRN

doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000158
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Liver cirrhosis is a chronic liver disease. Patients with liver cirrhosis need to manage the symptoms of the disease and possible complications. Symptoms due to ascites, encephalopathy, and/or varices are hard to manage and live with. Self-care is necessary for coping with the symptoms and for improving the patient's life situation. The aim of this study was to explore the areas of life situation and self-care among patients suffering from liver cirrhosis with complications. Interviews with patients with liver cirrhosis (n = 13), seven women and six men (46–70 years), were performed. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis. The experience of the patient's life situation was described from two aspects: vulnerability and reflection on life. Vulnerability was expressed as symptom experience, feelings of loneliness, preconceptions, and limits in daily life. In reflection on life, the patients expressed acceptance and sadness. Self-care dealt with (a) being responsible by observing symptoms and signs; (b) adhering to treatment, prescription, and advice; and (c) the need for more understanding of and information about the disease. When caring for patients with liver cirrhosis, it is important to identify symptoms and feelings and help patients individually to maintain health through self-care.

Carola Fagerström, MSc, RN, is Registered Nurse, Department of Gastroenterology and Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.

Gunilla Hollman Frisman, PhD, CCRN, is Associate Professor, Anaesthetics, Operations and Speciality Surgery Centre, and Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.

Correspondence to: Carola Fagerström, MSc, RN, Department of Gastroenterology and Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden (carola.fagerstrom@lio.se).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Received November 11, 2014

Accepted February 28, 2015

© 2017 by the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, Inc.