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J Adv Nurs. 2008 Apr;62(1):32-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04536.x.

Patients' experiences of learning clean intermittent self-catheterization: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Continence Services, Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust, Cwmbran, Wales, UK.



This paper is a report of a study to explore the experiences of learning to carry out clean intermittent self-catheterization and user views of service provision.


This treatment imposes a variety of challenges to users, both physical and emotional. Safety, infection rates and complications have been investigated, but the practicalities of learning and performing self-catheterization have not been addressed. What is currently known about the topic from a user perspective is based on audit, small projects or anecdotal reports provided by continence advisers.


In-depth interviews were carried out in 2006 with eight men and seven women, aged 33-81 years (median 65), and carrying out self-catheterization for a variety of reasons. A grounded theory framework was used.


Themes identified were psychological issues, physical problems and service interaction. The communication skills of nurses helped facilitate the learning experience. In conjunction with nurses' skills, a friendly relaxed approach alleviated embarrassment and anxiety, thus facilitating information exchange and retention of information.


Adequate information and thorough instruction by healthcare professionals helps empower people to take control and master the treatment, with potential contribution to ongoing compliance and long-term urinary tract health. Development of a policy supporting evidence-based care and a consistent teaching programme is highly recommended for use where this treatment is regularly employed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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