1. Savard, Julie RN, MN
  2. Woodgate, Roberta PhD, RN


Inflammatory bowel disease is a significant illness among young people, requiring some of them to get an ostomy; however, there is minimal research that seeks to understand the meanings young people assign to their inflammatory bowel disease experiences. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to arrive at an understanding of the lived experiences of young persons with inflammatory bowel disease and an ostomy. Six young adults (19-24 years of age) diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and who all had had an operation for a temporary ostomy, participated in individual open-ended interviews. "Concealing and Revealing the Self," which emerged as the essence of young adults' experiences, referred to how much they chose to present their "true" self to others. The concealment of their true self was, in part, due to the symptoms they experienced and the impact that the illness had on their changing bodies. It was not until they were no longer experiencing the symptoms and their bodies returned to normal that they were able to reveal themselves and have a true sense of confidence. Findings also reveal that young persons with ulcerative colitis and an ostomy experience many uneasy feelings that affect their sense of self, which nurses need to acknowledge.