The burden of inflammatory bowel disease: a patient-reported qualitative analysis and development of a conceptual model

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014 Mar;20(3):545-52. doi: 10.1097/01.MIB.0000440983.86659.81.


Background: The aim of this study was to describe the impacts of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) from the patients' perspective and to inform the development of a conceptual model.

Methods: Focus groups and one-on-one interviews were undertaken in adult patients with IBD. Transcripts from the focus groups and interviews were analyzed to identify themes and links between themes, assisted by qualitative data software MaxQDA. Themes from the qualitative research were supplemented with those reported in the literature and concepts included in IBD-specific patient-reported outcome measures.

Results: Twenty-seven patients participated. Key physical symptoms included pain, bowel-related symptoms such as frequency, urgency, incontinence, diarrhea, passing blood, and systemic symptoms such as weight loss and fatigue. Participants described continuing and variable symptom experiences. IBD symptoms caused immediate disruption of activities but also had ongoing impacts on daily activities, including dietary restrictions, lifestyle changes, and maintaining close proximity to a toilet. More distal impacts included interference with work, school, parenting, social and leisure activities, relationships, and psychological well-being. The inconvenience of rectal medications, refrigerated biologics, and medication refills emerged as novel burdens not identified in existing patient-reported outcome measures.

Conclusions: IBD symptoms cause immediate disruption in activities, but patients may continue to experience some symptoms on a chronic basis. The conceptual model presented here may be useful for identifying target concepts for measurement in future studies in IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / psychology*
  • Crohn Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Report*
  • Young Adult