Patients’ experiences and challenges in living with inflammatory bowel disease

Patients’ experiences and challenges in living with inflammatory bowel disease

The purpose of this study was to explore patient experiences in living with IBD and uncover factors that contribute to psychological distress.

Download Patients-Experience-and-Challenges-in-Living-with-Inflammatory-Bowel-Disease_A-Qualitative-Approach paper below


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) significantly impacts patients’ quality of life and imposes a considerable psychological, social, and financial burden. While the relationship between disease activity and quality of life is well established, the subjective challenges of living with IBD are more difficult to assess, and suggestions for improving patient experiences are lacking. The aim of this paper was to explore the various challenges patients encounter in living with IBD and to propose suggestions for overcoming them.

Patients and Methods

This study utilized a qualitative descriptive design with thematic content analysis. Patients were recruited from the Gastroenterology Clinic at McMaster University Medical Centre from December 2014 to April 2015. Data were collected over the course of 5 focus group interviews using a semi-structured interview guide.


Seventeen patients aged 25 to 77 years old (mean age 43 years, SD 17 years) were interviewed. Fifteen patients were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and 2 patients were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Findings were categorized into 18 subthemes which were grouped into 4 broader themes: awareness factor, psychosocial impacts, financial burden, and quality of care.


IBD is associated with complex personal challenges across various demographics. Identifying and meeting the unique needs of individual patients may be achieved through improving communication between patients and their healthcare providers. Family-based education approaches, individualized psychotherapy with therapists familiar with IBD, awareness initiatives addressed to important stakeholders, and patient involvement in community support groups may improve overall IBD care.

Full research here.