This research into RUTIs appears to be the first qualitative investigation of this neglected area. It confirms the findings of previous studies[9–11] that UTI occurrence can have a systemic impact on health and wellbeing and cause serious disruption to daily activities, and illustrates how the recurrent nature of these episodes amplifies and compounds this disruption into a serious long-term disability. The women's use of metaphor captures their experience more effectively than the more reductive terminology used in medical descriptions. The use of Qualitative Description allows these voices to be vividly heard and enables the presentation of a diverse picture of what it means for some women to live with the uncertainty and discomfort of recurrent UTIs.
For some forum users, the judicious use of antibiotics, together with sympathetic and informed doctoring, appears to provide some relief. However others continue to suffer physically, emotionally and socially from RUTIs. Further research of women's experience of this troublesome condition is required to clarify the wider relevance of the qualitative themes identified here, to identify key elements of good clinical practice and supportive care, and to provide a more rigorous assessment of alternatives to conventional treatments such as CAM interventions.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
AF conducted the website review and drafted the initial paper. FB familiarised herself with the data and contributed to the development of the key themes. GL and FB then assisted in the analysis of the material. All authors contributed to, and read and approved the final manuscript.
Andrew Flower is currently funded as a NIHR Post doctoral Fellow investigating the possible role of Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections.
Thanks to the COBF for their support for this project and to the women who contributed to the website.
BMC Fam Pract. 2014;15(162) © 2014 BioMed Central, Ltd.
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