More than 1,000 hysterectomies are carried out in the United Kingdom every week and it is estimated that one in five women can expect to undergo this operation by the age of 60 (Wood & Maher 1997). The author being a student and working on placement on a Gynecology ward had noticed that some women are concerned about leaving hospital environment and returning home after surgery. The author after speaking to nursing colleagues about this, found staff were also concerned about different issues concerning the patients.
These issues raised from women being able to cope on returning home after having a hysterectomy; women being given enough per and post information, for example Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); if the women would have enough social support; the availability of local support groups; additional follow up care from her own doctor. The purpose of this pilot study is to explore if women’s experiences of hysterectomy has changed over the years and to identify the met and unmet healthcare needs with a view to enhance clinical practice.
Literature Review. Hysterectomy can be a negative or positive experience depending on the individual’s personal circumstances. For some it brings release from unbearable or life threatening illness, but women may feel that their womanhood is threatened and may have to forgo any chance of having children naturally. For many women the effects hysterectomy can have on role function, self-concept, body image and physiology may cause a life crisis (Sharts-Hopko 2001). Research into recovery from hysterectomy received sparse attention before 1980’s.
It was not until 1986 the Government announced a minister in Department of Health who would have special responsibilities for women’s problems (Holdsworth 1991). Many nursing studies span over a twenty-year period (Webb et al 1983b, Gould 1985, Laliinec -Michaud et al 1989, Wade et al 2000) have shown to be varied and conflicting when referring to women’s experiences in the recovery from a hysterectomy. In the U. K. Gould and Wilson Barnett (1985) were among the first researchers to examine the effects of hysterectomy prospectively.
They compared postoperative recovery from cardiac surgery from hysterectomy. Their study examined demographic, physical and psychosocial variables. Interviewing patients a few days postoperatively, at 4 months, and at 11 months, they discovered a high level of satisfaction with effects of hysterectomy. Sixty seven percent of the women thought that hysterectomy enabled them to enjoy life more. As Gould (1990) established nurses expressed surprise that women’s recovery from hysterectomy should be considered for a topic for research due to its routine nature and apparent lack of problems.