Get access

A qualitative descriptive study of self-management issues in people with long-term intermittent urinary catheters


M. Wilde: e-mail:


wilde m.h., brasch j. & zhang y. (2011) A qualitative descriptive study of self-management issues in people with long-term intermittent urinary catheters. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(6), 1254–1263.


Aim.  The study was to identify and describe issues of intermittent urinary catheter users for future self-management research and/or training programmes.

Background.  Limited studies were found of how people using clean intermittent catheterization manage their daily routines or troubleshoot problems. Self-management research related to intermittent catheterization could lead to improved compliance with the method and better quality of life.

Method.  This qualitative descriptive study involved in-depth tape-recorded telephone interviews in 2008–2009 with 34 people in the United States of America using permanent intermittent catheterization, mostly individuals with spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis. Recruitment was through Internet sites where individuals could link to the study website and then contact the researchers. The sample included 13 men and 21 women aged 21–72 years (mean 42 years). Content analysis for qualitative data involved iterative comparisons of transcripts, summaries and memos. Coding, key quotes and tables were developed to determine themes.

Findings.  Six major themes were identified: Knowing the Body, Practising Intermittent Catheterization, Limited Options in Catheters and Equipment, Inaccessible Bathrooms, Hassles, and Adjustment in Making Intermittent Catheterization a Part of Life. While some persons had choices in catheters, many did not because of insurance constraints. Some individuals developed knowledge of how to balance the procedure with fluid intake and activities.

Conclusion.  The lack of acceptable bathrooms can interfere with being able to go to work, travel or be with friends and family. All using intermittent catheterization should have adequate insurance coverage when this is needed. Research into training programmes could incorporate knowledge of experienced users.