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Positive and Negative Aspects of Colostomy Irrigation: A Patient and WOC Nurse Perspective

Carlsson, Eva; Gylin, Meta; Nilsson, Laila; Svensson, Katarina; Alverslid, Ingrid; Persson, Eva

Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing: September/October 2010 - Volume 37 - Issue 5 - p 511–516
doi: 10.1097/WON.0b013e3181edaf84

PURPOSE: Colostomy irrigation (CI) is an effective method to achieve fecal continence in selected persons with a colostomy. The primary aims of the study were to find out to what extent the WOC nurses used CI in their practice and what kind of information the WOC nurses gave patients if they provided explanations and potential solutions when irrigation was not successful in preserving continence. A further aim was to find out, from a patients' perspective, the positive and negative aspects of practicing CI and how they perform CI.

METHODS: The study employed a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach. Data from WOC nurses were obtained by means of a structured questionnaire and by means of structured telephone interviews with patients who performed CI.

SUBJECTS AND SETTING: Questionnaires were sent out to 89 WOC nurses in Sweden, and 61 (69%) questionnaires were returned. Thirty-nine patients, median age 67 years, from 5 hospitals participated in the interview study.

RESULTS: Sixty-four percent of the WOC nurse respondent always informed patients about CI. Forty-four percent of patients did not remember all the information they had been given by the WOC nurse regarding CI before starting with the procedure. Eighty-seven percent reported changing routines from how they initially performed CI over the years. Almost all (97%) of the respondents described positive aspects of CI. The 2 primary positive aspects described by participants were (1) feeling secure and (2) having an empty pouch.

CONCLUSION: Persons living with a colostomy who regularly performed CI reported positive benefits associated with the procedure including a feeling of security and having an empty pouch. Despite these potential benefits, not all patients with a colostomy who are appropriate candidates for CI are offered information about the method from the WOC nurses.

Eva Carlsson, PhD, RN, WOC Nurse, Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and Colorectal Unit, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Meta Gylin, RN, WOC Nurse, Department of Surgery, Södertälje Hospital, Södertälje, Sweden.

Laila Nilsson, RN, WOC Nurse, Surgical Department, Southern General Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Katarina Svensson, RN, WOC Nurse, Department of Surgery, Vrinnevi Hospital, Norrköping, Sweden.

Ingrid Alverslid, RN, WOC Nurse, Värnamo Hospital, Värnamo, Sweden.

Eva Persson, PhD, RN, Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden.

Correspondence Eva Carlsson, PhD, RN, Colorectal Unit, Sahlgrenska University Hospital/östra, 416 85 Gothenburg, Sweden (

The authors have disclosed that they have no financial relationships related to this article.

Copyright © 2010 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society