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  1. Pihl Lesnovska, Katarina MSc, RN
  2. Hollman Frisman, Gunilla PhD, RN
  3. Hjortswang, Henrik PhD, MD
  4. Borjeson, Sussanne PhD, RN


Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are chronic and have a fluctuating clinical course that impacts daily life. Daily life with a chronic disease involves thinking and worrying about the limitations that chronic disease causes. Knowledge about how patients who suffer from IBD manage critical incidents in daily life is lacking. The aim of the study was to describe how patients living with IBD experience critical incidents in daily life in relation to their disease and symptoms. Thirty adult patients were interviewed focusing on critical incidents in daily life. Data were analyzed using the critical incident technique. The study comprised 224 critical incidents and was grouped into 21 subcategories and 5 categories: losing bowel control, having a body that smells, being unable to meet own and others' expectations, not being believed or seen, and experiencing frustration due to side effects and ineffective treatment. These categories formed one main area describing the overall result "The bowels rule life." The uncertain nature of IBD created critical incidents in which the bowel ruled life, causing patients to avoid social interaction. It also placed considerable demands on the family and sometimes had a negative effect on the afflicted person's career.