Dealing With the Unthinkable: Bladder and Colorectal Cancer Patients’ and Informal Caregivers’ Unmet Needs and Challenges in Life After Ostomies

Nihal E. Mohamed, Qainat N. Shah, Holden E. Kata, John Sfakianos, Barbara Given

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives: We examined patient and informal caregiver unmet needs to identify areas for targeted supportive care interventions and programs to enhance both patient and informal caregiver experience. Data Sources: A total of 30 patients who underwent ostomy surgeries for bladder or colorectal cancers and 13 informal caregivers participated in the study. Patients were enrolled at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai between 2017 and 2018. Qualitative data were collected by individual interviews, audiotaped, and transcribed verbatim. Transcribed data were iteratively analyzed using Atlas.ti to explore patient and caregiver unmet needs. Results: Patients and informal caregivers reported having insufficient psychological preparation for ostomy surgeries, and very limited hands-on training on stoma care and utility of stomal appliances. Unmet psychological needs related to depression, anxiety, and distress caused by changes in body image and sexual, urinary, and bowel function were reported. Patients and caregivers also reported significant patient medical needs in the acute postoperative period including pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, inflammation, and complications resulting in hospital readmissions. Colorectal cancer patients specifically experienced significant challenges with changes in diet and nutrition that contributed to ostomy care burden. Both patients and caregivers recommended seeking psychological and social support to enhance both patient and caregiver emotional adjustment to life after ostomies. Conclusion: Meeting patient and informal caregiver unmet informational and supportive care needs is imperative to improve their quality of life and adjustment. Implications for Nursing Practice: An effective supportive care plan should be designed and utilized in clinical care to improve ostomy patients’ and caregivers’ outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151111
JournalSeminars in Oncology Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Bladder cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Ostomies
  • Ostomy care
  • Quality of life
  • Unmet needs


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