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inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, qualitative research, women



  1. Skrastins, Olivia BA
  2. Fletcher, Paula C. PhD


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation is to study the lived experiences of female postsecondary students diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and/or irritable bowel syndrome.


Methods: Nine women between the ages of 18 and 26 years were recruited to participate in this study. Participants completed an informed consent form and background questionnaire before completing a semi-structured one-on-one interview. This interview explored the lived experiences of these individuals in relation to condition management.


Results: Three salient themes that emerged from the data included (1) it can add to my life; (2) why me: my condition runs my life; and (3) I'm doing the best I can with what I have. The salient theme of I'm doing the best I can with what I have, the theme addressed in this article, was subdivided into adaptive and maladaptive coping behaviors. Reasons for the use of these behaviors included to avoid triggers or flare-ups/harmful effects, to achieve instant relief/pleasure, to respond to environmental pressures, and to become accustomed to dealing with the everyday hassles of their conditions.


Conclusion: Community health nurses may become part of the solution to help women with inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome find more adaptive coping behaviors. Other implications are discussed.