Background: Patients with stomas face many difficulties both physical and psychological. Little is known about the long-term problems and the impact on patient lifestyle of a permanent stoma. This study was designed to address the problems faced by patients with stomas.
Methods: Patients were identified from the Stoma Care Department records for the years 1985 to 1992 and were contacted by mail. A questionnaire was designed to assess postoperative care, quality of life issues, and equipment problems. Responses were recorded on either a visual analog scale, a choice of yes-or-no alternatives, or by selection from a list of responses.
Results: A total of 542 eligible patients were contacted, and 391 replies were received. Major stomal problems included rashes (51 percent), leakage (36 percent), and ballooning (90 percent of patients with ileostomy). The majority of patients experienced some change in lifestyle (80 percent), and more than 40 percent of patients had problems with their sex lives.
Conclusion: Many patients cope extremely well with a stoma; however, some patients experience considerable difficulty and distress. Improved preoperative assessment and counseling with longer follow-up by the stoma department would be helpful in the management of these patients and probably would contribute to improvement in the quality of their lives.