Living with a stoma can have a significant psychological impact, especially for individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who may need ostomy surgery at a relatively young age. Previous research indicates that body image, sexual relationships, lifestyle and self-identity may all be affected as a result of stoma formation. While extensive research has investigated these psychological challenges, relatively little is known about the supportive care needs of younger stoma patients and how these are to be met. This presentation will outline the preliminary findings of a qualitative study that addresses this knowledge gap.Methods
In-depth interviews are being conducted with young adults (18–29 years) who have a stoma as a result of IBD, and a range of healthcare professionals involved in their care pathway (including surgeons, gastroenterologists, IBD nurses, stoma care nurses, and primary care physicians). A combination of constructivist grounded theory and narrative inquiry are informing data-collection and analysis.Results
Emerging findings suggest that young adults perceive a general lack of psychological support throughout their illness trajectory. The need for more holistic stoma care services, better accessibility to psychosocial interventions, increased signposting to other support avenues, as well as better co-ordination and consistency of care are highlighted by patients and healthcare professionals alike. Young adults also emphasise the importance of age-appropriate care, expressing a preference for peer support, particularly online, as a support tool.Conclusion
This ongoing study confirms the importance of refocusing research attention towards the supportive care needs of this patient-group. Findings will have implications for improving access to care and support for young adults with a stoma, with the ultimate goal of effectively identifying and managing psychological problems among this population.