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Multinational survey on living with an ostomy: prevalence and impact of peristomal skin complications

09 September 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 16



Peristomal skin complications (PSCs) impair life for people with an ostomy. Visual signs of PSCs include discolouration, but sensation symptoms like pain, itching, and burning are equally important and underreported.


To provide improved understanding of PSC prevalence and associated challenges in the communities of ostomy patients and ostomy care nurses.


The Ostomy Life Study 2019 encompassed a patient survey (completed by 5187 people with an ostomy) and a nurse survey (completed by 328 ostomy care nurses).


In total, 88% of patients experienced PSCs and 75% experienced PSC symptoms in the absence of discolouration. Eighty per cent of nurses considered ostomy-related issues to be the main reason for PSCs, and a correlation between PSC severity and number of nurse consultations was demonstrated.


This study revealed a remarkably high PSC incidence in the absence of discolouration and highlighted direct consequences of having compromised skin and the health-economic consequences.

Peristomal skin complications (PSCs) are the most common postoperative complication following creation of an ostomy and remain a constant challenge for the majority of individuals with an ostomy. The incidence of PSCs is widely reported in the literature (Herlufsen et al, 2006; Richbourg et al, 2007; Gray et al, 2013; Salvadalena, 2013) and with great variability. Although a PSC rate of 18-60% has been summarised based on several investigations (Meisner et al, 2012), nurse specialists reported that nearly 80% of their patients developed PSCs (Colwell et al, 2017). These discrepancies in incidence reporting may reflect a non-systematic way of assessing PSCs among different health professionals (Martins et al, 2012). Importantly, the incidence of PSCs may be underreported by persons with ostomies partially due to them accepting that some degree of challenges associated with their ostomy are the ‘new normal’ and therefore they tend not to seek help and/or advice from a health professional.

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