Short bowel syndrome and the impact of patients and their families: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Charlotte Panter
  • Gavin Dickie
  • Bryan Bennett


Background and aims:
Short bowel syndrome (SBS) is a malabsorptive condition which can result in intestinal failure (SBS-IF). Many patients with SBS-IF require home parenteral nutrition (PN) for survival. However, PN has profound effects on patients and their family members. This research aimed to understand the lived experience of SBS-IF for patients and their families.
In-depth semi structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 15 patients with SBS-IF and five adult family members living with someone with SBS-IF. A patient-centric approach was taken with a patient steering group providing input and guidance to develop the interview guide. Key concepts were identified using thematic analysis of interview transcripts.
Patients’ lives were dominated by having SBS-IF. They described physical impacts which included patient reported signs and symptoms and physical restrictions comprising of restrictions on daily life, actives of daily living and physical functioning. In addition, they encountered emotional impacts having a plethora of negative feelings and social impacts such as difficulties socializing and with relationships. Patients coped by adapting their life around SBS-IF, having support and adopting an attitude of gratitude and acceptance. Family members were also affected and along with patients appreciated the respite of a night off infusions.
Patients and families face many difficulties with SBS-IF. Healthcare professionals can support patients by facilitating them explore what others have found beneficial; adapting their life around PN, viewing PN with acceptance and trying to cultivate gratitude. Further research into the support required for families may be beneficial.  

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-774
JournalJournal Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Early online date10 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020