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News and Events > News > News

Research Project: Personal Experiences of Living with a Urinary Catheter


Urinary catheterisation is a medical procedure used to drain and collect urine from the bladder. Long-term catheterization is normally used for patients whose bladders will not empty fully or who have incontinence. The experiences of long-term catheter users are crucial in helping us to understand the pros and cons of long-term catheters and the physical and emotional issues that effect patients. What is it like to live with a permanent urinary catheter? How might infections and blockages be minimised? How does having a long-term indwelling urinary catheter affect travel, work and intimate relationships?

With the help of Professor Roger Feneley and others, a new project has been funded by the National Institute of Health Research to answer these and many other questions. The aim of the research is to further our understanding of people's personal experiences of living with a long-term urinary catheter.

The research is being conducted by the Health Experiences Research Group, based at the University of Oxford, who publish the award-winning Healthtalkonline website: The website is for the general public, health professionals and researchers and enables everyone - patients, friends, family and healthcare professionals, to find out more from other peoples' experiences of health and illness. It is available freely, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and gets approximately a million hits a month. It is also used for teaching.

Each section or health issue on the website consists of clips from in-depth interviews that are carried out by researchers in people's own homes. Extensive video, audio and text clips are selected to reflect the things that are important to patients themselves or their carers. These are presented on the website alongside information about illnesses and treatments, links to other websites and support groups and a forum for sharing experiences and thoughts. As well as exploring serious or long-term conditions such as cancer, heart disease, mental health, chronic health and diseases of the brain and nervous system, Healthtalkonline also covers life-related issues such as being a carer, pregnancy, sexual health, screening, immunisation and bereavement. Currently, sections on over 70 health conditions are available.

The voices and experiences of people who have been living with a permanent indwelling catheter will be published on the Healthtalkonline website in 2013, so the deadline for interviews will be 10th August. This new section will focus on all the topics that catheter-users and carers said were important to them, including: what led them to needing a long-term indwelling catheter the advantages and difficulties of a urinary catheter managing their own catheter and the things they found helpful. Some people said they would have liked more information when they were first discharged from hospital, while others felt they were given sufficient information. Many also talked about the problems they felt a newly designed catheter should solve.

If you are a carer and would like to be interviewed about your experiences of caring for someone with a long-term indwelling catheter, please contact:

Last Updated: 20 April 2012

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