Untreated Peristomal Skin Complications Among Long-Term Colorectal Cancer Survivors With Ostomies

Carmit K. McMullen

Joseph Wasserman

Andrea Altschuler

Marcia Grant

Mark C. Hornbrook

Petra Liljestrand

Catherine Briggs

Robert Krouse

colorectal neoplasms
CJON 2011, 15(6), 644-650. DOI: 10.1188/11.CJON.644-650

This ethnography of family caregiving explored why peristomal skin complications are common and undertreated among colorectal cancer survivors with intestinal ostomies. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 31 cancer survivors and their family caregivers, fieldwork, structured assessments, and medical records review, and analyzed with qualitative theme and matrix analyses. Survivors who received help changing the skin barrier around their stoma had fewer obstacles to detection and treatment of peristomal skin complications. Half of the survivors received unpaid help with ostomy care, and all such help came from spouses. Married couples who collaborated in ostomy care reported that having assistance in placing the ostomy appliance helped with preventing leaks, detecting skin changes, and modifying ostomy care routines. In addition, survivors who struggled to manage ostomy care independently reported more obstacles to alleviating and seeking treatment for skin problems. Oncology nurses can improve treatment of peristomal skin problems by asking patients and caregivers about ostomy care and skin problems, examining the peristomal area, and facilitating routine checkups with a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse.

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