Supportive Communication to Facilitate Chinese Patients' Adaptation to a Permanent Colostomy: A Qualitative Case Study Approach

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Abstract

This study, which is a part of action research, aims to explore how supportive communication can impact individuals' adaptation to a permanent colostomy in a Chinese cultural context. Two Chinese rectal cancer patients with complexity and difficulty in living with a permanent colostomy were selected using a qualitative case study approach. The researcher (H.T.) interacted with the participants along their journey from the preoperative period until the third postoperative month after discharge via face-to-face or telephone interviews. Content analysis was applied. Supportive communication was characterized by “communication as a supportive tool,” which consisted of 4 elements: respect, description, empathy, and empowerment. The nursing strategies included (1) developing a collaborative relationship with patients and families; (2) understanding patients' concerns and problems; (3) discussing potential solutions; (4) encouraging patients to take action; (5) bringing out emotional expression; (6) normalizing negative emotions; and (7) protecting hope. The findings of this study informed that supportive communication is a valuable tool for nurses to provide informational and emotional support to Chinese patients in order to enhance their adaptation to living with a permanent colostomy. Developing an operational manual to enhance supportive communication for patients with colostomy is suggested.

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