Cancer survivors’ challenges with ostomy appliances and self-management: a qualitative analysis

Virginia Sun, Octavio Bojorquez, Marcia Grant, Christopher S. Wendel, Ronald Weinstein, Robert S. Krouse

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: An ostomy poses significant health-related quality of life (HRQOL) issues for cancer survivors. Survivors must learn to manage pouching appliances and adjust to the psychosocial consequences of living with an ostomy. We explored, through qualitative analysis, the challenges with self-management and ostomy appliances reported by cancer survivors. Methods: Pooled data from two studies with a question on the greatest challenge of living with an ostomy and intervention session notes were analyzed using content analysis approach. The themes were reviewed and agreed upon by the research team, and counts were tallied for each theme based on the number of times they were mentioned by participants. Results: Of the 928 greatest challenge responses and session notes, a total of 106 mentions (11%) were focused on ostomy appliances, associated repercussions, and time taken for ostomy care. Eight themes emerged: bleeding, pain, leakage, skin problems/irritation/rash, wafer-related issues, materials getting under the wafer, time to care for ostomy, and solutions to clean the stoma. Challenges described included poor wafer adherence, allergic reactions to adhesives, and pain around the stoma site. These challenges resulted in anxiety related to leakage, odor, and/or skin irritation, which negatively impacted on participation in social activities and self-confidence with ostomy care. Conclusions: Cancer survivors living with an ostomy experience multiple obstacles with ostomy appliances and caring for their ostomy. Continued innovation in ostomy appliance design and technology is needed to help cancer survivors with successfully managing ostomy care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1554
Number of pages4
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • Ostomy
  • Ostomy appliance
  • Self-management
  • Survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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