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© The Author(s) 2015. The design of the Foley catheter has not changed since 1937. Scientists interested in medical technology tend to focus on state-of-the-art designs for newsworthy specialties rather than the more mundane technologies of daily life. We interviewed 36 people living with a long-term urinary catheter in the United Kingdom, who described limitations of the current catheter design, including infections and complications and consequences for social life and relationships, and their perceptions of whose responsibility it was to improve the design. All took steps to hide the urine bag, but the need to use a catheter and urine bag had, for some, a very detrimental effect on social life and relationships. People living with long-term catheters are relatively isolated at home and dealing with many different underlying health problems, undermining opportunities to speak with a collective patient voice. Qualitative health researchers could act as a conduit to help stimulate new designs.

Original publication




Journal article


Qualitative Health Research

Publication Date





154 - 163