• grounded theory;
  • healthcare professionals;
  • interviews;
  • long-term catheterization;
  • older people;
  • patients’ experiences;
  • primary health care


Title. Living with a long-term urinary catheter: older people’s experiences.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the experiences of older people living with a long-term urinary catheter and the development of a substantive theory grounded in their realities.

Background.  Understanding the user perspective is a prerequisite for involving older people in a collaborative relationship with healthcare professionals which is built around their needs and wishes. Older people’s views and experiences of the complexity of living with a long-term catheter have not been widely researched. An enhanced understanding of catheter users’ perspectives and an awareness of their needs can be used to improve care.

Method.  A grounded theory approach was adopted and 20 in-depth interviews were carried out in England in 2005 and 2006 with 13 older people living at home with long-term urinary catheters.

Findings.  The core category ‘all about acceptance’ described older people’s adjustment to living with a long-term urinary catheter; the two categories ‘at ease’ and ‘uneasy’ reflect the extremes of contentment experienced. Three interlinking categories of ‘trying to understand’, ‘judging catheter performance’ and ‘being aware of the catheter’ shaped older people’s relationships with their catheters and this was mediated by their ‘interaction with others’. The consequences for older people fluctuated along a continuum from ‘engaging actively’ to experiencing ‘downbeat sentiments’.

Conclusion.  To assist older people to adjust to living with a catheter, healthcare professionals must be sensitive to their life situations and individual needs rather than focusing predominantly on catheter performance and complications.