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PURPOSE: Ureteral stents are commonly used after ureteroscopy and cause significant discomfort, yet qualitative perspectives on patients' stent experiences remain unknown. We describe psychological, functional, and interpersonal effects of post-ureteroscopy stents and whether additional patient-reported assessments may be needed.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using a qualitative descriptive study design, we conducted in-depth interviews with a nested cohort of participants in the STudy to Enhance uNderstanding of sTent-associated Symptoms. Participants shared their symptoms with a post-ureteroscopy stent and described symptom bother and impact on daily activities. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using applied thematic analysis. During analysis, participants' experiences with interference in daily activities were categorized into three groups based on their impact: minimal, moderate, and substantial.
RESULTS: All 39 participants experienced pain, although descriptions varied and differentiated between feelings of pain versus discomfort. Almost all experienced urinary symptoms. Only a few reported other physical symptoms, although several psychological aspects were identified. In the areas of sleep, mood, life enjoyment, work, exercise, activities of daily living, driving, childcare, and leisure/social activities, the stent had little impact on daily living among participants placed in the minimal group (n=12) and far greater impact for participants in the substantial group (n=8). For patients in the moderate group (n=19), some daily activities were moderately or substantially affected, while other activities were minimally affected.
CONCLUSIONS: Counseling to better prepare patients for the impact of stent-associated symptoms may help mitigate symptom burden. While existing instruments adequately cover most symptoms, additional assessments for other domains, particularly psychological factors, may be needed.