To explore the need for knowledge as expressed by patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease.
Inflammatory bowel disease has a major impact on physical and emotional well-being, placing considerable demands on patients' management of daily activities. Although inflammatory bowel disease patients' level of knowledge about their disease has been previously studied, it is necessary to learn more about their self-expressed needs.
The study was designed to explore patients' need for knowledge; therefore, an inductive method was chosen.
Thirty patients with inflammatory bowel disease were interviewed. Content analysis was used to describe their need for knowledge.
The analysis generated three categories and eight subcategories: (1) knowledge related to the course of the disease (subcategories: understanding causal relationships between symptoms and the disease, complications related to the disease and understanding treatment), (2) knowledge related to managing everyday life (subcategories: behaviour that enhances well-being and managing social life) and (3) difficulty understanding and assimilating information (subcategories: shifting knowledge needs, help to understand information and reasons for wanting or not wanting knowledge).
Knowledge needs were related to what to expect when living with inflammatory bowel disease in order to manage everyday life. There was a great variation in the need for knowledge, which was greatest immediately following diagnosis and during relapse.
It is important for healthcare providers to ascertain the patients' individual knowledge needs and together with them formulate an individual care plan that gives the patient the necessary knowledge to manage their health and social life.