Evid Based Nurs 5:125 doi:10.1136/ebn.5.4.125
  • Qualitative

Adults experienced a long term indwelling urinary catheter as living with the forces of flowing water

 QUESTION: What are the experiences of adults living with indwelling urinary catheters?




Central New York, USA.


14 adults (age range 35–95 y, 64% women) with long term indwelling urinary catheters (duration 6 mo to 18 y) who lived in the community. The primary reason for wearing the catheter was urinary retention caused by disease conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular accident, enlarged prostate, and spinal cord injury.


7 participants were interviewed once, and 7 were interviewed twice. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. The transcripts were analysed to identify themes. Written summaries of the data were clarified and verified with participants.

Main findings

Living with a urinary catheter was found to be like living with the forces of flowing water. The following themes emerged. Vulnerability: the force of flowing water was a metaphor to describe the similarity of the movement of urine into the catheter bag to water that is let into and out of a dam. …

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