Living with faecal incontinence: trying to control the daily life that is out of control

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Aims and objectives.

To identify and describe the lived experience of persons living with faecal incontinence and show how it affects daily life.


Faecal incontinence is a relatively common condition, with a prevalence ranging from 3–24%, not differing between men and women. There is an under-reporting due to patients’ reluctance to talk about their symptoms and consult healthcare professionals about their problems, which means that problems related to faecal incontinence are often underestimated. Living with faecal incontinence affects the quality of life negatively and has a negative impact on family situations, social interaction, etc.


A qualitative interpretative study based on interviews.


In-depth interviews were conducted with five informants, all women, living with faecal incontinence. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis.


The analysis identified four themes: self-affirmation, guilt and shame, limitations in life and personal approach. The themes differ from each other, but are related and have similarities. The results show different aspects of living with faecal incontinence and how they affected daily life.


Living with faecal incontinence is a complex problem affecting everyday life in a number of different ways. It is a highly distressing and socially incapacitating problem. Living with faecal incontinence is about trying to control the daily life which is out of control. Living with faecal incontinence cannot be generalised as individuals experience the situation in unique ways.

Relevance to clinical practice.

By gaining insight into the experience of living with faecal incontinence, healthcare professionals can deepen their understanding of this complex problem and thereby better address it and provide more individually based care.

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