Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are chronic gastrointestinal disorders of unknown aetiology of increasing incidence and changing disease activity or severity. Approximately 60-80% of IBD patients suffer from IBS. Monitoring and treatment goals of IBD are to optimise the disease course by prolonging remission periods and preventing or shortening periods of active disease. Constant-care web-monitoring and treatment approaches with active patient involvement have been proven effective in UC, increasing patients' adherence and improving the disease outcomes.
Aim: To assess the feasibility and efficacy of the novel constant-care eHealth applications in: i) CD patients treated with infliximab (IFX), ii) UC patients with active disease on mesalazine, iii) IBS patients and iv) IBD patients with IBS on a low FODMAP diet (LFD).
Methods: New constant-care web applications www.cd.constant-care.dk, www.meza.constant-care.dk and www.ibs.constant-care.dk in IBD patients were developed and assessed in this thesis. An integrated inflammatory burden measure of disease activity, consisting of a subjective (clinical indices) and of an objective (faecal calprotectin) part and a treatment guide to drug doses and intervals, was incorporated into the web applications and used by patients.
Results: Web-guided IFX treatment in CD demonstrated patients' inter- and intra-individual variability in infusion intervals and provided patients with individualised treatment according to their needs. Web-guided treatment with multimatrix mesalazine was efficacious in a majority of UC patients with mild-to-moderate disease activity. Web-guided IBS-monitoring in IBD and in IBS patients on LFD was shown to be a feasible method that actively involved patients in their disease management and had a positive short-term impact on the disease. Moreover, the new constant-care concepts were demonstrated to be safe and to have a positive impact on quality of life and adherence to treatment and helped to reduce the costs.
Conclusions: The novel constant-care web applications have proven feasible in improving the disease outcomes in CD patients on IFX, in UC patients on mesalazine, and in monitoring IBS. These applications are expected to be implemented in the clinical practice of gastroenterology in Denmark in the coming years. Future studies will help to assess whether the natural disease course can be improved in the long-term.