Aim: This paper is a report of a literature review conducted to answer the question 'How has the experience of bodily change following stoma formation been explored and interpreted through existing qualitative research?'.
Background: A faecal stoma alters the function, appearance and sensation of the body. Quantitative research highlights the importance of bodily change following stoma formation but is limited in being able to explore what this experience means to ostomists. Qualitative research can identify ways in which ostomists experience their changed body but a conceptual framework of their experience drawn from qualitative findings which can inform patient-centred care has not yet been identified.
Method: The Amed, ASSIA, CINAHL, Embase, Medline and Psycinfo databases were searched from inception to April 2009 using predefined inclusion criteria. Of 144 papers identified, 11 were selected for review. An interpretive review methodology for qualitative research synthesis was employed.
Findings: Three broad themes of bodily experience following stoma formation were identified: loss of embodied wholeness, awareness of a disrupted lived body and disrupted bodily confidence. These highlight the impact of the experience of living with a stoma on the embodied self and the ostomist's embodiment within their lifeworld.
Conclusion: A loss of embodied wholeness which underpins the experience of stoma formation can be represented through awareness of the disrupted lived body and impact on the lifeworld. Findings suggest the need for further research to identify a comprehensive conceptualization of bodily change, which can more closely match healthcare service to individual patient need.