Reuse of intermittent catheters: a qualitative study of IC users' perspectives

To explore the views of intermittent catheter (IC) users regarding the advantages and disadvantages of single-use or reuse of catheters.

Qualitative study with semi-structured interviews. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

Participant's own homes in Hampshire and Dorset, UK.

A convenience sample of 39 IC users, aged 23-86 years, using IC for at least 3 months.

The analysis revealed four main themes: concerns regarding risk of urinary tract infection (UTI); cleaning, preparation and storage; social responsibility; practicalities and location. The main concern was safety, with the fear that reuse could increase risk of UTI compared with single-use sterile catheters. If shown to be safe then around half of participants thought they might consider reusing catheters. The practicalities of cleaning methods (extra products, time and storage) were considered potentially burdensome for reuse; but for single-use, ease of use and instant usability were advantages. Always having a catheter without fear of 'running out' was considered an advantage of reuse. Some participants were concerned about environmental impact (waste) and cost of single-use catheters. The potential for reuse was usually dependent on location. The analysis showed that often the disadvantages of single-use could be off-set by the advantages of reuse and vice versa, for example, the need to take many single-use catheters on holiday could be addressed by reuse, while the burden of cleaning would be obviated by single-use.

If shown to be safe with a practical cleaning method, some participants would find reuse an acceptable option, alongside their current single-use method. The choice to use a mixture of single-use and reuse of catheters for different activities (at home, work or holiday) could optimise the perceived advantages and disadvantages of both. The safety and acceptability of such an approach would require testing in a clinical trial.

BMJ open. 2018 Aug 17*** epublish ***

Miriam Avery, Jacqui Prieto, Ikumi Okamoto, Samantha Cullen, Bridget Clancy, Katherine N Moore, Margaret Macaulay, Mandy Fader

School of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK., Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.