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Demographic and Clinical Factors Affect Ostomy Complications


It has been estimated that more than 120,000 new ostomies are created each year in the United States and Canada. Complications following ostomy surgeries are a significant problem for many; for example, studies show that up to 71% of patients with an ileostomy (small bowel) experience complications. This study examined demographic, clinical, and quality of life factors that may be related to ostomy complications, which, for this study, were defined as skin problems, leakage, and difficulty with adjustment. Investigators conducted a secondary analysis using data collected for a cross-sectional, case-control study that included 239 veterans at three VA sites who had intestinal ostomies.

Findings indicate that demographic and clinical factors are potential risk factors for the development of ostomy complications. For example, younger veterans (less than 60 years) had more severe skin irritation problems, more severe leakage, and greater difficulty adjusting compared to older veterans (older than 80 years). No significant differences in severity of ostomy complications were observed by race/ethnicity, sex, or education. Two important clinical factors were significantly related to ostomy complications: 1) whether the stoma was marked pre-operatively, and 2) whether a provider had explained the ostomy prior to surgery. Greater proportions of veterans who did not have their stoma site marked reported severe difficulty adjusting to the ostomy, and more veterans who did not have the procedure explained prior to surgery had severe problems with skin irritation and leakage. In addition, the four quality of life domains measured in this study (physical, psychological, social, and spiritual) were strongly related to all three ostomy complications.

PubMed Logo Pittman J, Rawl S, Schmidt C, Grant M, Ko C, Wendel C, and Krouse R. Demographic and clinical factors related to ostomy complications and quality of life in veterans with an ostomy. Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing September/October 2008;35(5):493-503.

This study was supported by HSR&D. Dr. Ko is part of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and Dr. Krouse is part of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.