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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The chronic and complex nature of IBD creates monumental challenges for patients, families and health professionals. The problems are particularly great for nurses because of a notable gap in the literature regarding the condition's impact on the daily life and coping behaviors of affected persons. The model developed by Strauss et al (1984) for understanding the problems of the chronically ill provides the framework for discussion of the implications of IBD in daily living. Nursing interventions which may facilitate self-care are included. Areas in need of further study are identified. If nurses are to enhance the quality of life for persons with IBD, a body of knowledge based on systematic study in this area must evolve.