“It Just Is What It Is”: The Positive and Negative Effects of Living With Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Abstract

Purpose:

This study aimed to explore the lived experiences of women diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and/or irritable bowel syndrome enrolled in postsecondary education.

Methods:

Nine women aged 18 to 26 years participated in this study. Data collection consisted of an informed consent form, a background questionnaire, and a semistructured one-on-one interview. This interview explored the lived experiences of these individuals regarding perceived positive and negative effects of living with these conditions.

Results:

Salient themes that emerged from the data were (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.” Themes 1 and 2, the themes addressed in this article, were subdivided into (1) change in perception of self, condition, and others and (2) healthy lifestyle and (1) unpredictability and inconsistencies of inflammatory bowel disease/irritable bowel syndrome, (2) lack of understanding, and (3) the inconvenience of inflammatory bowel disease/irritable bowel syndrome, respectively. All participants expressed both positive and negative effects of living with their conditions.

Conclusion:

Community health nurses should be aware of the positive and negative effects of living with these conditions to help build relationships and assist with condition management. Other implications are discussed.

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