We evaluated the influence of social support on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in persons with a colostomy, taking into account time since surgery.
SUBJECTS AND SETTINGS:
The study was conducted in 8 cities in Poland. The sample comprised 128 patients with a colostomy; their mean age was 66.24 years. Forty-five percent of participants had lived with a colostomy for more than 5 years, and 16% had a colostomy for less than 1 year.
The questionnaire used in the study included 76 questions divided into 3 parts. The first part comprised 8 questions that queried demographic characteristics. Parts 2 and 3 included 2 validated scales assessing HRQOL and social support, respectively. Health-related quality of life was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Colorectal instrument. Social support received was assessed using the Berlin Social Support Scale. In the case of both scales, the respondents were asked to assess their status during the last 7 days.
The study was conducted by an interviewer during monthly meetings of colostomy support groups as well as during hospitalization. The respondents gave their verbal answers to questions read by the interviewer or completed the questionnaires by themselves. After the questionnaire was completed, the interviewer verified completeness of answers. The outcome time elapsed since surgery was categorized as 3 subgroups: (1) respondents having a colostomy 1 year or less, (2) respondents having colostomy for more than 1 or up to 5 years, and (3) respondents having colostomy more than 5 years.
Analysis revealed a statistically significant relationship between level of social support and HRQOL among persons with a colostomy (R = 0.361, P = .000029). Moreover, we observed that the time elapsed since colostomy surgery influenced this relationship. Level of social support and HRQOL were not significantly related in persons living with a colostomy ≤1 year (R = 0.155, P = .525). The correlation was significant in persons with a colostomy for more than 1 to but less than 5 years (R = 0.329, P = .02), and in individuals living with a colostomy for more than 5 years (R = 0.482, P = .0001).
Persons with permanent colostomies and the higher level of social support from family reported higher HRQOL than did persons with lower levels of social support. Time elapsed since colostomy surgery exerts a positive effect on this relationship; the longer the patients live with a colostomy, the greater the influence of social support.