Adjusting to bodily change following stoma formation: a phenomenological study

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Purpose: Scant research has been undertaken to explore in-depth the meaning of bodily change for individuals following stoma formation. The aim of this study was to understand the experience of living with a new stoma, with a focus on bodily change.

Method: The study adopted a longitudinal phenomenological approach. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit twelve participants who had undergone faecal stoma-forming surgery. Indepth, unstructured interviews were conducted at three, nine and fifteen months following surgery. A five-stage framework facilitated iterative data analysis.

Results: Stoma formation altered the taken-for-granted relationship individuals had with their bodies in terms of appearance, function and sensation, undermining the unity between body and self. Increasing familiarity with and perceived control over their stoma over time diminished awareness of their changed body, facilitating adaptation and self-acceptance.

Conclusions: Stoma formation can undermine an individual’s sense of embodied self. A concept of embodiment is proposed to enable the experience of living with a new stoma to be understood as part of a wider process of re-establishing a unity between body, self and world. In defining a framework of care, individuals with a new stoma can be assisted to adapt to and accept a changed sense of embodied self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1791-1802
Number of pages12
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number18
Early online date1 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Body image
  • colorectal surgery
  • embodiment
  • ostomy
  • self-acceptance
  • UK

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