‘This would make a good research project’... like other ideas for projects this was said with little expectations that it could develop from a vague suggestion to reality.
It was during an outpatients session that myself and a junior doctor were discussing that if stoma bags were more teenage friendly i.e. choice of colour/design, would it have an effect on the acceptance of having a stoma for the child?
Aware that the Opus bursary was open for applications we worked on an appropriate title to submit with our proposal. The result was announced at the ASCN conference 2013.
Staffing, cost, lack of support and protected time were noted to be the major barriers for nurses not undertaking research, (Tanner & Hale 2002, Oh 2008) with the Opus award covering the cost I only had to find the time and support!
We simplified the research title to ‘The psychological and social impact of stoma formation on children’ with the aim, to assess the psychological impact of stoma formation on children over the age of five years old and possible benefits of paediatric specific stoma appliances.
Many hours of internet searching revealed 100s of papers that have been written on the psychological effects of adults having a stoma compared to 3 involving children. This was both exciting and frustrating, the project would be seen as relevant, and up to date, but with no recognised measuring tool to use we knew the process would take longer.
We were advised to use the professional resources within our own research department, each time we met we became more disillusioned by the process. With the increased emphasis on nurses establishing and utilising best research evidence, I felt that there was little encouragement or support to conduct research within my clinical role.
Meeting up in a café one Saturday morning we pulled together our own conceptions on possible difficulties, problems and emotions that our patients may exhibit.
We acknowledged that we needed a focus group to clarify that our conceptions were the same as our patient group. There was a disappointing response of 3 from the 27 patients we asked to attend, with only 2 attending on the day due to sickness.
Although the group was small, 2 children and 3 parents it was very productive in the information they shared with us. It turned out to be very beneficial for both families as neither of the families had ever met another child with a stoma.
We are now at the stage that we can use the feedback from the group to adjust the original questionnaire to make it robust, creditable and child friendly. Although it has taken many months to get to this point, we recognise the importance of producing a valued piece of research. We hope that the results will highlight the actual psychological issues that children with stomas may experience.
The Opus bursary award has given me the opportunity and motivation to undertake this study and to comply with Jolley (2002) who suggests that research should not only be for academics but should be part of professional development.
Tanner, J. and Hale, C. (2002) Research-active nurses’ perceptions of the barriers to undertaking research in practice. Journal of research in Nursing. 2002, vol. 7, no. 5, September, pp. 363-375.
Oh, E.G. (2008) Research activities and perceptions of barriers to research utilization among critical care nurses in Korea. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing. 2008, vol. 24, no. 5, October, pp. 314-322.
Jolley, S. (2002) Raising research awareness: a strategy for nurses. Nursing Standard. 2002, vol. 16, no. 33, May, pp. 33-39.
AL/1775/08.14/0.001. Date of preparation: August 2014.