Ostomy surgery requires significant reconstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in uncontrolled passage of fecal effluent from a stoma in the abdominal wall. Concerns about creation of an ostomy often supersede all other concerns. Ostomy-related concerns include impaired body image; fear of incontinence; fear of odor; limitations affecting social, travel-related, and leisure activities; and impaired sexual function. Because the creation of an ostomy affects multiple domains within the construct of health-related quality of life (HRQOL), it is not surprising that quality of life is a frequent outcome measure in ostomy-related research.
We reviewed existing research in order to identify the influence of intestinal ostomy surgery on HRQOL. We sought to identify clinical evidence documenting the influence of nursing interventions on HRQOL in patients with an intestinal ostomy. In addition, we systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate the validity and reliability of condition-specific instruments for measuring HRQOL in this patient population.
We completed an integrative review using the key terms “quality of life” and “ostomy” in order to identify sufficient evidence to determine the influence of intestinal ostomy surgery on HRQOL. A systematic review using the key terms “ostomy” and “nursing” was completed to identify the effect of specific nursing interventions on HRQOL in patients with intestinal ostomies. Only randomized clinical trials were included in this review. A systematic review using the key terms “quality of life” and “ostomy” was used to review and identify condition-specific HRQOL instruments and evidence of their validity and reliability. MEDLINE and CINAHL databases were used to address all 3 aims of this Evidence-Based Report Card. Searches were limited to studies published between 1980 and January 2009. Hand searches of the ancestry of studies and review articles were completed to identify additional studies.
An integrative literature review revealed sufficient research to conclude that intestinal stoma surgery impairs HRQOL. Multiple factors, including the underlying reason for an ostomy, presence and severity of ostomy complications, presence and severity of comorbid conditions, sexual function, age, and ability to pay for ostomy supplies influence the magnitude of this effect. HRQOL tends to be most severely impaired during the immediate postoperative period. It usually improves most dramatically by the third postoperative month, and it continues to improve more gradually over the first postoperative year. A systematic review revealed 2 randomized clinical trials demonstrating that at least 2 nursing interventions improve HRQOL in persons with intestinal ostomies. A separate systematic review identified 4 instruments for measuring HRQOL in the research setting.
There is sufficient research-based evidence to conclude that intestinal ostomy surgery exerts a clinically relevant impact on HRQOL, and that nursing interventions can ameliorate this effect. While a small number of instruments exist, including several that have proved valid and reliable in the research setting, no instrument has yet been adapted for routine in the clinical setting.
Joyce Pittman, RN, APRN-BC, CWOCN, School of Nursing, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis; and Clarian Health System-Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Kathryn Kozell, RN, MScN, ACNP, ET, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada.
Mikel Gray, PhD, FNP, PNP, CUNP, CCCN, FAANP, FAAN, Department of Urology and School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Corresponding author: Mikel Gray, PhD, FNP, PNP, CUNP, CCCN, FAANP, FAAN, Department of Urology and School of Nursing, University of Virginia, PO Box 800422, Charlottesville, VA 22908 (email@example.com).