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© 2015 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society. PURPOSE: To explore why men and women decide to have a suprapubic catheter, how the decision is made, and to compare people's experiences of suprapubic and transurethral catheterization for long-term bladder drainage. DESIGN: Narrative interviews followed by thematic analysis. SUBJECTS AND SETTING: Thirty-six long-term catheter users living in England, Wales, or Scotland were interviewed. The sample included men and women from various socioeconomic backgrounds, with a wide range of conditions. They were aged 22 to 96 years (M = 57 years). METHODS: Interviews lasted between 1 and 3 hours; they were audiotaped and fully transcribed for analysis. A qualitative interpretive approach was taken, combining thematic analysis with constant comparison. RESULTS: Some respondents were satisfied with or preferred a urethral catheter; others preferred a suprapubic catheter because they perceived that suprapubic catheters led to fewer infections, were more hygienic, more comfortable, improved self-image, allowed a sense of control, and were better suited for sexual relations. Participants also mentioned the decision-making process, including how the decision was made to have a suprapubic catheter and where to insert the catheter at a particular point in the abdomen. Even with a suprapubic catheter, some worried about sex or were put off sexual intimacy because of the catheter. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that patients should be better informed before a suprapubic catheter is inserted and that issues such as sex should be raised in consultations when appropriate.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing

Publication Date





170 - 175