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Journal of Coloproctology (Rio de Janeiro)

Print version ISSN 2237-9363On-line version ISSN 2317-6423

J. Coloproctol. (Rio J.) vol.34 no.4 Rio de Janeiro Oct./Dec. 2014

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcol.2014.05.009 

Original Articles

Quality of life and self-esteem of patients with intestinal stoma

Qualidade de vida e autoestima em pacientes com estoma intestinal

Geraldo Magela Salomé1  * 

Sergio Aguinaldo de Almeida1 

Maiko Moura Silveira1 

1Universidade do Vale do Sapucaí (UNIVÁS), Pouso Alegre, MG, Brazil

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to investigate the quality of life and self-esteem in patients with intestinal stoma. This is a clinical, primary, descriptive, analytical study, conducted at the Ostomized People's Pole of Pouso Alegre, after approval by the Ethics Committee of the Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde Dr. Jose Antonio Garcia Coutinho under opinion No. 23,227. Three instruments - a questionnaire on demographics and stoma, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM and Flanagan Quality of Life Scale - were used in the data collection. The following tests were used for statistical analysis: chi-squared and Kruskal-Wallis tests and Spearman correlation. For all statistical tests, the level of significance of 5% (p<0.05) was considered. Most participants were older than 60 years, of male gender and attended support groups. Twenty-one (30%) of respondents were illiterate. Neoplasia was the most frequent of the causes that led patients to receive an ostomy; permanent colostomy was the type of ostomy used. Individuals were not submitted to stoma demarcation and did not make irrigation. Regarding the type of complication, 34 (48.60%) had dermatitis; 14 (20%) showed retraction.

The mean of Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM was 10.81 and the mean of Flanagan Quality of Life Scale was 26.16. It was concluded that individuals with intestinal stoma participating in the survey showed impaired self-esteem/quality of life.

Key words: Ostomy; Quality of life; Body image; Self-concept; Self-esteem

RESUMO

O objetivo deste estudo foi investigar a qualidade de vida e a autoestima em pacientes com estoma intestinal. Trata-se de um estudo clínico, primário, descritivo e analítico. Este estudo foi realizado no Pólo dos ostomizados de Pouso Alegre, após aprovação pelo Comitê de Ética em Pesquisa da Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde “Dr. José Antônio Garcia Coutinho", sob o parecer no 23.277. Foram utilizados três instrumentos para a coleta de dados da pesquisa: questionário sobre os dados demográficos e estoma, Escala de Autoestima de Rosenberg/UNIFESP-EPM e Escala de Qualidade de Vida de Flanagan. Foram utilizados para a análise estatística os seguintes testes: Qui-quadrado e Kruskal-Wallis e correlação de Spearman. Para todos os testes estatísticos, foi considerado o nível de significância de 5% (p < 0,05). A maioria dos participantes tinha mais de 60 anos, eram do gênero masculino e partici-pavam de grupo de apoio. Vinte e um (30%) dos participantes da pesquisa eram analfabetos. Neoplasia foi a causa mais frequente para a aquisição da ostomia; o tipo de ostomia foi colostomia permanente. Os indivíduos não foram submetidos à demarcação do estoma e nem realizaram irrigação. Com relação ao tipo de complicação, 34 (48,60%) apresentavam dermatite; 14 (20%) retração. A média da Escala de Autoestima de Rosenberg/UNIFESP-EPM foi 10,81 e a média da Escala de Qualidade de Vida de Flanagan (EQVF) foi 26,16. Concluiu-se que os indivíduos com estoma intestinal que participaram da pesquisa apresentavam autoestima e qualidade de vida prejudicadas.

Palavras-Chave: Estomia; Qualidade de vida; Imagem corporal; Autoimagem; Autoestima

Introduction

A stoma is an artificial communication between organs or viscera and the external environment, for feeding, drainage and elimination. The making of an ostomy is a medical-surgical procedure. With respect to the origin of the disease, the ostomy may be temporary or permanent.1

When receiving a stoma, the individual begins to evacuate through the artificial communication installed in his/her abdomen. At first, many patients would rather die than live with the stoma. Over the days, they start to realize that having an ostomy means gaining the opportunity for a new life. In this sense, it is noticed that, after an ostomy, individuals thus treated experience moments of emotional or psychological change that, by affecting the quality of life, self-esteem, body image and even their sexuality, can generate anxiety and even depression.

We observe the loss of social status due to the isolation imposed by the ostomized individual him(her)self and by the society, which can reject those who are considered outside the so-called normal patterns, that is, those who do not have a body that fits the current beauty and biomedical functioning parameters.2

Living with a stoma often causes feelings of fear, anguish and insecurity; these people believe that they are not able to return to their activities of life after hospitalization. It must be emphasized that the process of rehabilitation of ostomized people begins preoperatively and continues with their return home, when a new phase starts, marked by profound biological, psychosocial and economic changes, and whit a new battle which ought be fought by the ostomized person to cope with, and survive to, the new conditions.3

Quality of life (QOL) is the individual's perception of his/her health status in relation to social, physical, psychological, economic and spiritual aspects.4,5

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines QOL covering five dimensions: physical health, psychological health, level of independence, social relationships and environment.6

Thus, the quality of life and well-being encompass the observations needed to the research on ostomized patients, referring to the person's physical health, level of independence, social relationships, psychological state, personal beliefs and relationship with key aspects of the environment, which may cause changes in self-esteem and self-image, triggering anxiety and depression.79

The assessment of self-esteem in ostomized people is becoming increasingly important and necessary, because when subjected to this surgery, these people start living a different experience, where their standard of living and rhythm of life begin to change. Their desires and values are often not fulfilled nor respected; they feel rejected, seeking seclusion because of the odor and elimination of feces through the abdomen.

Notwithstanding the recognition of the importance of self-esteem to social and individual well-being in the scientific literature, in Brazil there are few studies on the subject, especially population-based ones. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the quality of life and self-esteem in patients with intestinal stoma.

Methods

This is a clinical, primary, descriptive, analytical, prospective study.

This study was conducted at the Ostomized People's Pole at Pouso Alegre. Data were collected in the period between December 2012 and May 2013, after approval by the Research Ethics Committee from the Universidade do Vale do Sapucaí under Opinion No. 23,277. The sample was selected in a non-probabilistic way and by convenience. Data collection was conducted by the researchers themselves; all patients signed a free and informed consent form. Inclusion criteria were: age ≥ 18 years and be user of an intestinal stoma. Exclusion criteria were: patients with syndromes of dementia and/or other conditions that prevented them from understanding and answering to the questionnaires.

Three instruments to data collection for the survey were used. First, a questionnaire on demographic data and the stoma; a second instrument was Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM; and the third was Flanagan Quality of Life Scale.

The Rosenberg scale is an instrument used in several studies on self-esteem.1012 It is an unidimensional scale translated and adapted in Brazil by Dini et al.13 to be used in their study, having been applied to a population of patients who underwent plastic surgery.1113 The Rosenberg scale is a Likert-type 4-point scale (1 = I fully agree 2 = I agree, 3 = I disagree, 4 = I strongly disagree), containing 10 items. Of this total, 5 items evaluate the individual's positive feelings about themselves (In general, I am satisfied with myself; I feel I have some good qualities; I am able to do things as well as most other people, provided they are taught to me; I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on a level equal to other people; I take a positive view of myself) and 5 assess negative feelings (At times I think I am no good at all; I don't feel satisfaction in the things that I have done; I feel that I have not much to be proud of; sometimes I really feel myself useless, incapable of doing things; I wish I could have more respect for myself; Almost always I'm inclined to think I'm a loser). To score the responses, the five items that express positive feelings have their values inverted, which, added to the other five, add up to a single value for the scale. This scale consists of ten statements with four possible options for response. Each alternative has a value ranging from zero to three. Thus, it presents a final score of zero to 30, where zero is the best value for self-esteem and 30 the worst one.

The FQLS14 conceptualizes the quality of life based on five dimensions: physical and material well-being, relationship with others, social, community and civic activities, personal development and fulfillment, and recreation. These dimensions are measured by 15 items, where the respondent has seven response options ranging from “very dissatisfied" (score 1) to “very satisfied" (score 7). 105 points is maximum score achieved in the assessment of quality of life proposed by Flanagan,14 with 15 points being the minimum score, reflecting a low quality of life. It is worth noting that the scale is self-administered; however, some older people involved in this study received help from researchers in their answers to the instrument, because of physical limitations such as hand tremor, decreased visual and hearing acuity and low educational level.

The FQLS was developed for the United States and has not been validated for the Brazilian culture; However, Hashimoto et al. held its translation into Portuguese and applied FQLS for ostomized patients.15,16 In 1998, Gonçalves et al. applied the scale in a relatively large and heterogeneous random sample and found high reliability for this instrument. Then, these authors used the same scale in a study involving elderly people,15,16 verifying a good level of reliability - a factor that contributed to the decision to use this instrument in the present study.

In the statistical analysis, the following tests were used: the chi-squared test on demographic variables and on the “related to ostomy" variable, to determine if the distribution was proportional, that is, if the same number of subjects was allocated to each variable category. Kruskal-Wallis test and Spearman correlation were also used. For all statistical tests, significance levels of 5% (p < 0.05) were considered.

Results

In Table 1, it can be verified that the majority of participants were above 60 years old, male gender, retired, earned 1–3 minimum wages per month and attended support groups. Twenty-one (30%) of respondents were illiterate and 19 (25.10%) could read and write.

Table 1 Sociodemographic characteristics of individuals with intestinal stoma. 

Variable p n % General % Valid % Pooled
Age group
44–59 years 17 24.3 24.3 24.3
60–67 years 18 25.7 25.7 50.0
68–74 years 0.057 16 22.9 22.9 72.9
75–85 years 19 27.1 27.1 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Marital status
Married 34 48.6 48.6 48.6
Separated 0.035 14 20.0 20.0 68.6
Widow(er) 22 31.4 31.4 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Schooling
Illiterate 21 30.0 30.4 30.4
Can read and write 19 27.1 27.5 58.0
Elementary school Incomplete 11 15.7 15.9 73.9
High school, incomplete 2 2.9 2.9 76.8
High school, complete 0.007 4 5.7 5.8 82.6
Higher education, incomplete 3 4.3 4.3 87.0
Higher education, complete 9 12.9 13.0 100.0
Total 69 98.6 100.0
Did not reply 1 1.4
Total 70 100.0
Occupation
Retired 50 71.4 73.5 73.5
Unemployed 4 5.7 5.9 79.4
Working 0.003 14 20.0 20.6 100.0
Total 68 97.1 100.0
Did not reply 2 2.9
Total 70 100.0
Support/association group
Yes 38 54.3 54.3 54.3
No 0.075 32 45.7 45.7 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Family income
<1 Minimum wage 16 22.9 22.9 22.9
1–3 Minimum wages 36 51.4 51.4 74.3
3–4 Minimum wages 0.091 10 14.3 14.3 88.6
>5 Minimum wages 8 11.4 11.4 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0

Table 2 shows that neoplasia was the most frequent cause for ostomy; permanent colostomy was the type of ostomy used. Most of the subjects were not told that they would receive a stoma. In addition, all subjects were not submitted to stoma demarcation and did not make irrigation. Regarding the type of complication, 34 (48.60%) had dermatitis; 14 (20%), retraction and 13 (18.60%), prolapse. With respect to the diameter of the stoma, 34 (48.60%) measured 20–40 mm and 23 (32.90%), 40–60 mm.

Table 2 Intestinal stoma characteristics. 

p n % General % Valid % Pooled
Gender
Male 0.003 18 25.7 25.7 25.7
Female 52 74.3 74.3 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable cause of ostomy
Dificolite 3 4.3 4.3 4.3
Inflammatory bowel disease 5 7.1 7.1 11.4
Neoplasia 0.003 52 74.3 74.3 85.7
Crohn's disease 10 14.3 14.3 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable type of estoma
Colostomy 54 77.1 77.1 77.1
Ileostomy 0.007 16 22.9 22.9 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable Stoma diameter
0–20 mm 10 14.3 14.3 14.3
20–40 mm 34 48.6 48.6 62.9
40–60 mm 0.056 23 32.9 32.9 95.7
60–80 mm 3 4.3 4.3 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable type of complication
Dermatitis 34 48.6 48.6 48.6
Fistulae 1 1.4 1.4 50.0
Peristomal herniation 5 7.1 7.1 57.1
Pseudo-verrucous lesions 1 1.4 1.4 58.6
Allergic reaction to device 0.0023 1 1.4 1.4 60.0
Pseudo-verrucous lesions/Dermatitis 1 1.4 1.4 61.4
Retraction 14 20.0 20.0 81.4
Prolapse 13 18.6 18.6 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable demarcation was performed?
Yes 17 24.3 24.3 24.3
No 0.002 53 75.7 75.7 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable type of device
Single-system 22 31.4 31.4 31.4
Two pieces 0.043 48 68.6 68.6 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable irrigation?
Yes 26 37.1 37.1 37.1
No 0.047 44 62.9 62.9 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable it was told that you would have to use a stoma?
Yes 48 68.6 68.6 68.6
No 0.049 22 31.4 31.4 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Variable stoma character
Temporary 18 25.7 25.7 25.7
Permanent 0.003 52 74.3 74.3 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0

From Table 3, the participants' responses reveal that the mean score of Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM was 10.81 and the mean score of FQLS was 26.16, meaning that these ostomized patients had negative feelings related to self-esteem and showed a decreased quality of life.

Table 3 Results obtained in Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM and Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (FQLS) mean scores in individuals with intestinal stoma. 

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM Flanagan Quality of Life Scale - FQVS p
Mean 10.81 26.16
Median 11.00 19.00 0.001
Mode 11 19
Standard-deviation 5.395 19.897

According to Table 4, it was observed that most of participants got scores between 1 and 15 points in the Self-Esteem Scale, and between 16 and 22 points in FQLS, revealing that these patients showed quality of life and self-esteem changes.

Table 4 Results in Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM and Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (FQLS) total scores in individuals with intestinal stoma. 

Total score p Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM
n % General % Valid % Pooled
1 1 1.4 1.4 1.4
2 1 1.4 1.4 2.9
3 4 5.7 5.7 8.6
4 1 1.4 1.4 10.0
5 4 5.7 5.7 15.7
6 8 11.4 11.4 27.1
7 2 2.9 2.9 30.0
8 3 4.3 4.3 34.3
9 1 1.4 1.4 35.7
10 2 2.9 2.9 38.6
11 0.079 11 15.7 15.7 54.3
12 9 12.9 12.9 67.1
13 5 7.1 7.1 74.3
14 5 7.1 7.1 81.4
15 6 8.6 8.6 90.0
16 1 1.4 1.4 91.4
17 3 4.3 4.3 95.7
25 1 1.4 1.4 97.1
27 1 1.4 1.4 98.6
30 1 1.4 1.4 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0
Total score p Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (FQLS)
n % General % Valid % Pooled
16 10 14.3 14.3 14.3
17 6 8.6 8.6 22.9
18 1 1.4 1.4 24.3
19 29 41.4 41.4 65.7
20 5 7.1 7.1 72.9
21 2 2.9 2.9 75.7
22 6 8.6 8.6 84.3
31 0.037 1 1.4 1.4 85.7
37 2 2.9 2.9 88.6
55 2 2.9 2.9 91.4
59 1 1.4 1.4 92.9
84 1 1.4 1.4 94.3
85 2 2.9 2.9 97.1
99 2 2.9 2.9 100.0
Total 70 100.0 100.0

Table 5 shows that the participants' responses reached 60 points (85.70%) for the question about independence (being able to do things for yourself) and 62 points (88, 61%) for questions about the job or work at home and participation in recreational and sports activities. Such values characterize changes in these aspects.

Table 5 Descriptive statistics: responses of participants to items of Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (FQLS) in individuals with intestinal stoma. 

Questions of the scale Scoring
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
N % n % N % n % n % n % n % n %
Q1 31 44.3 33 47.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 4 5.7 2 2.9 0 0.0 70 100.0
Q2 47 67.1 15 21.4 0 0.0 3 4.3 0 0.0 5 7.1 0 0.0 70 100.0
Q3 50 71.4 10 14.3 2 2.9 2 2.9 1 1.4 0 0.0 5 7.1 70 100.0
Q4 28 40.0 34 48.6 2 2.9 1 1.4 0 0.0 1 1.4 4 5.7 70 100.0
Q5 32 45.7 28 40.0 2 2.9 3 4.3 2 2.9 1 1.4 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q6 51 72.9 8 11.4 3 4.3 1 1.4 2 2.9 3 4.3 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q7 49 70.0 13 18.6 2 2.9 1 1.4 0 0.0 2 2.9 3 4.3 70 100.0
Q8 55 78.6 10 14.3 1 1.4 0 0.0 0 0.0 2 2.9 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q9 55 78.6 9 12.9 1 1.4 2 2.9 1 1.4 0 0.0 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q10 51 72.9 11 15.7 1 1.4 2 2.9 1 1.4 2 2.9 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q11 62 88.6 0 0.0 1 1.4 3 4.3 0 0.0 2 2.9 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q12 54 77.1 8 11.4 3 4.3 0 0.0 0 0.0 3 4.3 2 2.9 70 100.0
Q13 62 88.6 2 2.9 0 0.0 1 1.4 1 1.4 4 5.7 0 0.0 70 100.0
Q14 58 82.9 4 5.7 1 1.4 2 2.9 0 0.0 4 5.7 1 1.4 70 100.0
Q15 57 81.4 4 5.7 1 1.4 0 0.0 2 2.9 6 8.6 0 0.0 70 100.0

Q1, Material comfort: housing, food, financial situation; Q2, Health: to feel physically well and with energy; Q3, Relationship with relatives, social coexistence, communication, helping; Q4, Family constitution: having and raising children; Q5, Intimate relationship with spouse or partner; Q6, Relationship with friends; Q7, Helping and supporting others; Q8, Participation in public interest associations and activities; Q9, Apprenticeship: having the opportunity to increase your general knowledge; Q10, Self-knowledge: knowledge about your potentials and limitations, to know what you want, important goals for your life; Q11, Occupation at work or at home; Q12, Knows how to communicate; Q13 Participation in recreational and sports activities; Q14, Listening to music, Watching TV or movies, reading and other entertainments; Q15, Socialization: make friends. Independence: feel able to do things for yourself.

According to Table 6, a mean of 1.41–2.0 for all 16 items was obtained. These findings reflect a low degree of satisfaction, that is, the ostomized individuals in this study were dissatisfied with their lives.

Table 6 Results obtained in Flanagan Quality of Life Scale (FQLS) mean score in individuals with intestinal stoma. 

Items of scale Scoring
n Mean Median Standard-deviation
Q1 70 1.84 2.0 1.187
Q2 70 1.70 1.0 1.387
Q3 70 1.77 1.0 1.661
Q4 70 2.00 2.0 1.474
Q5 70 1.94 2.0 1.371
Q6 70 1.74 1.0 1.567
Q7 70 1.69 1.0 1.499
Q8 70 1.49 1.0 1.316
Q9 70 1.47 1.0 1.224
Q10 70 1.64 1.0 1.435
Q11 70 1.47 1.0 1.411
Q12 70 1.59 1.0 1.440
Q13 70 1.41 1.0 1.291
Q14 70 1.54 1.0 1.431
Q15 70 1.63 1.0 1.534

Q1, Material comfort: housing, food, financial situation; Q2, Health: to feel physically well and with energy; Q3, Relationship with relatives, social coexistence, communication, helping; Q4, Family constitution: having and raising children; Q5, Intimate relationship with spouse or partner; Q6, Relationship with friends; Q7, Helping and supporting others; Q8, Participation in public interest associations and activities; Q9, Apprenticeship: having the opportunity to increase your general knowledge; Q10, Self-knowledge: knowledge about your potentials and limitations, to know what you want, important goals for your life; Q11, Occupation at work or at home; Q12, Knows how to communicate; Q13 Participation in recreational and sports activities; Q14, Listening to music, Watching TV or movies, reading and other entertainments; Q15, Socialization: make friends. Independence: feel able to do things for yourself.

Discussion

With regard to sociodemographic characteristics of our 70 patients with intestinal stoma, most were elderly, over 60 years, were male, retired, earned 1–3 minimum wages per month and attended support groups. Twenty-one patients (30%) were illiterate and 19 (25.10%) could read and write, which is in line with other studies on intestinal stoma users.1520

The data relating to stoma indicated that, for most participants, neoplasia was the cause that led to stoma creation; and permanent ostomy was the type of ostomy used. Most of the subjects were not told that they would receive the stoma. Also, they were not submitted to stoma demarcation nor to irrigation. Regarding the type of complication, 34 (48.60%) had dermatitis; 14 (20%) retraction; and 13 (18.60%), prolapse. As the diameter of the stoma, 34 (48.60%) measured 20–40 mm and 23 (32.90%), 40–60 mm. These findings agree with several published studies.15,1925

The increase in life expectancy, the industrialization process, the globalization and the effects of urbanization implied that the Brazilian population was exposed to more health problems, among which stands out cancer, trauma and degenerative (and not degenerative) chronic diseases. Often these conditions may imply the use of an ostomy; and this requires professionals knowledgeable of innovative technological resources and in a position to promote autonomy for self-care and daily activities for their patients, with the aim to provide a better quality of life and well-being.26

When a patient receives a stoma, he/she begins to face many changes in his/her daily live that occur not only on the physiological level, but also on psychological, emotional and social levels. This has its consequences: suffering, pain, deterioration, uncertainty about the future and fear of rejection.27

The adaptation process occurs with the adjustment of a lifetime in a new context, in which important factors often must be abandoned, replaced or diminished. Therefore, this is an individual process that takes place over time, involving a number of aspects ranging from the assistance given, to how the ostomized person engages in self-care.28

In addition to the psychological, emotional and social problems already reported earlier, ostomized people face other setbacks, such as the exposure to a range of social constraints, the possibility of outgassing and excrement leakage due to the lack of voluntary control and also by flaws in the safety and quality of the collection bag, besides other complications. All in all, this triggers the fear of public exposure. Typically, such problems can be understood from the physical, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions.29

In this study, considering FQLS, the total score was between 16 and 26 points and the mean was 26.16, meaning that these patients demonstrated a decrease in their quality of life.

After surgery for the creation of a stoma, the patient experiences many negative feelings resulting from physiological, psycho-emotional and socio-cultural changes that permeate his/her life, provoking, in a greater or lesser extent, effects that may impact on its quality of life.

In a study that was developed with the aim of knowing the meanings attributed to the experience of ostomized patients, data were obtained through interviews and subjected to a content analysis. It was concluded that the ostomy signifies a change in lifestyle; and that the nursing care, through educational activities, is indispensable to the development of self-care and for the adaptation of ostomized people, with consequent improvement in their quality of life.28

When receiving an intestinal stoma, beyond the stigma from society, these patients suffer the embarrassment of an arduous acceptance of the changes resulting from a continuously adaptive process. Self-care is a process inserted in the acceptance phase of their new physical and physiological condition, which should be seen as a necessary therapeutic treatment that aims to improve the pathological, psychological, emotional and social domains, in order to cure these patients, considering that the purpose is not to diminish the reduction in quality of life, self-esteem, self-image and sexuality of those who received the stoma, but to prioritize their health in all areas.30 These patients feel shame and embarrassment, feelings that can get them to isolate themselves and to a life full of anxiety - maybe with a negative impact on their quality of life, self-esteem and body image.31

In a study whose authors identified those factors that interfered and changed the daily lives of ostomized individuals, it was concluded by the analysis of their reports that, among the factors identified, changes in everyday life and interpersonal relations (especially partner/partner relationship) were included, depriving the individual of a good quality of life, an adequate self-esteem, a positive body image and of his/her sexual life, that should be preserved and not stigmatized in society30 Another study in which the authors assessed the relationship between age and quality of life, it was concluded that older patients, on average, had higher scores for quality of life (65.21 against 61.87; the maximum score was 100, p = 0.56).32

In our study, after analyzing the responses of ostomized patients, the mean of Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale/UNIFESP-EPM was 10.81. Such finding has characterized these patients as having low self-esteem.

Self-esteem means psychological well-being, that is, the patient feels satisfied with his/her life and the affections related to his/her body are positive, in that the emotional responses are stable over a period of time, reflecting acceptance of his/her self-image, as well as in the adaptation of processes arising from his/her life cycle and social relationships.3335

In the process of adaptation, the patient with an intestinal stoma requires supports which are defined as interpersonal transformations, involving the combination of affection, social integration, exchange of mutuality, a secure sense of alliance and the meaning of guidance attainment.36 When receiving this support, the patient succeeds in his/her self-care, which, in turn, has an effect on quality of life and self-esteem.

From the time the individual receives the stoma, he/she starts to experience feelings of helplessness due to the discomfort, embarrassment and shame of his/her body, especially the feeling of being dirty and repugnant,37 leading to social isolation, change in body image and loss in his/her sexual life.

Low self-esteem can lead the patient to social isolation, which is visible in these individuals. However, it is important to stress that, given this reality, it is imperative the necessity for social interaction, as this process will contribute to the restoration of his/her perception of the body and self-image, mainly contributing to overcome the loneliness.38

In a study where the perception of patients with colostomy was analyzed regarding the use of the collector bag, it was possible to reveal the feelings and changes that have occurred; and how the adaptative process of the individual bearing a colostomy bag develops.

It was found that the relationship between the person with a colostomy and his/her collector bag is permeated by negative feelings and major changes in physical, psychological and sexual features, as well as in the web of his/her social relationships, resulting in low self-esteem.26

The sexual difficulties reported by some studies stem from the psychological state of the patient, the shame in face of the partner and from the feeling of being dirty and repugnant, that causes the fear of being rejected by others. This is because all human beings construct, throughout their life, an image of their own body that has to do with the customs and the environment in which they live, in order to have their needs met and to be situated in their own world. Body image is linked to concepts of youth, beauty, vigor, integrity and health. Therefore, those who deviate from the concept of body beauty may experience feelings of rejection and exclusion.39

In a study that evaluated the impact of a stoma in people s lives, the authors concluded that when a person receives an intestinal stoma, several changes take place in the lifestyle of these individuals, involving the need for learning self-care or changes in relation to its lifestyle with respect to their social participation, as well as sexual implications. Anyway, the fear that the individual has about this unknown situation involves the development of an intimate and psychosocial discomfort.40

Thus, the person that received an ostomy should not understand the ostomization as a hindrance to his/her social and sexual life, but as a new condition needing adjustment. Given that the occurrence of any change is difficult, the professional who is providing care must go hand in hand with his/her patient, so that in this way the patient feels supported and willing to seek help.41

This study reinforces the need to redirect our attention to the health of patients with intestinal stoma, seeking to identify, in the day-to-day practice of health services, in poles of ostomy care, hospitals or outpatient clinics and in Family Health Programs, the presence of changes in quality of life, self-esteem, self-image, well-being and sexuality. It is important that the major needs in the care of ostomized patients in their daily lives are resolved; it is also essential that the caregiver has sufficient knowledge to deal with the disabilities of these patients.

Considering the needs that emerged in recent decades with the increasing number of patients with chronic diseases that can lead an individual to live with an intestinal stoma, it is essential to redirect our academic training and the qualification of our health professionals, emphasizing not only the content, but also the practice of care offered to these people. And it is also critical that these professionals become aware of the importance of ostomized people performing self-care.

Conclusion

Patients in this study showed low self-esteem and quality of life.

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Received: February 23, 2014; Accepted: May 15, 2014

* Corresponding author. E-mail: geraldoreiki@hotmail.com, gsalome@infinitetrans.com (GM. Salomé).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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