The relationship of inflammatory bowel disease type and activity to psychological functioning and quality of life

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Dec;4(12):1491-1501. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2006.09.027.


Background & aims: We aimed to assess the relationship of disease type and disease activity with psychological functioning and quality of life (QOL) in a population-based cohort of patients with recently diagnosed inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Methods: A total of 388 individuals diagnosed within 7 years were recruited from a population-based registry of IBD patients for the Manitoba IBD Cohort Study. Participants completed a clinical interview and standardized self-report measures of positive and negative psychological functioning, and QOL. Disease activity was determined by symptom self-report over the prior 6 months; Harvey-Bradshaw or Powell-Tuck disease activity indices also were used. Disease type was determined through chart verification.

Results: Seventy-four percent of Crohn's disease and 66% of ulcerative colitis participants had active disease during the previous 6 months. Multivariate regression showed that those with active disease had higher levels of distress, health anxiety, and perceived stress, lower social support, well-being and mastery, and poorer disease-specific QOL, relative to those with inactive disease. Disease type was not contributory to psychological functioning or QOL. Pain anxiety (fear of pain) and pain-specific catastrophizing were not associated with disease activity, after controlling for other psychological variables. Participants with either active or inactive disease had suboptimal general QOL.

Conclusions: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease participants were not differentiated in their psychological profiles. Given the strong association between disease-specific QOL, psychological functioning, and disease activity, it is important to be aware of related difficulties in patients with active IBD. There is a continued impact on QOL by the disease, even when it is inactive.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / classification
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology