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Gender Differences in Quality of Life Among Long-Term Colorectal Cancer Survivors With Ostomies

Marcia Grant
Carmit K. McMullen
Andrea Altschuler
M. Jane Mohler
Mark C. Hornbrook
Lisa J. Herrinton
Christopher S. Wendel
Carol M. Baldwin
Robert S. Krouse
ONF 2011, 38(5), 587-596 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.587-596

Purpose/Objectives: To describe how gender shapes the concerns and adaptations of long-term (i.e., more than five years) colorectal cancer survivors with ostomies.

Design: Qualitative study using content analysis of focus group content.

Setting: Oregon, southwestern Washington, and northern California.

Sample: Four female and four male focus groups (N = 33) selected from 282 quantitative survey participants with health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) scores in the highest or lowest quartile.

Methods: Eight focus groups discussed the challenges of living with an ostomy. Content was recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using directive and summative content analysis.

Main Research Variables: HRQOL domains of physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being.

Findings: All groups reported avoiding foods that cause gas or rapid transit and discussed how limiting the amount of food eaten controlled the output. All groups discussed physical activities, getting support from friends and family, and the importance of being resilient. Both genders identified challenges with sexuality and intimacy. Coping and adjustment difficulties mostly were discussed by women, with men only discussing these issues to a small extent. Difficulties with sleep primarily were identified by women with low HRQOL. Problems with body image and depression were discussed only by women with low HRQOL.

Conclusions: Common issues included diet management, physical activity, social support, and sexuality. Although both genders identified challenges, women described more specific psychological and social issues than men.

Implications for Nursing: Application of these gender-based differences can inform educational interventions for colorectal cancer survivors with ostomies.

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