Abstract Background and Aims
Persons with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 either because of their underlying disease or its management. Guidance has been presented on the management of persons with IBD in the time of this pandemic by different groups. We aimed to determine how gastroenterologists around the world were approaching the management of IBD.
Members of the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO) IBD Task Force contacted colleagues in countries largely beyond North America and Europe, inviting them to review the WGO website for IBD and COVID-19 introduction, with links to guideline documents, and then to respond to 9 ancillary open-ended management questions.
Fifty-two gastroenterologists from 33 countries across 6 continents completed the survey (April 14 to May 16, 2020). They were all adhering for the most part to published guidelines on IBD management in the COVID-19 era. Some differences and reductions in services related to access, and some related to approach within their communities in terms of limiting virus spread. In particular, most gastroenterologists reduced in-person clinics (43 of 52), limited steroid use (47 of 51), limited elective endoscopy (45 of 52), and limited elective surgeries (48 of 51). If a patient was diagnosed with COVID-19, immunomodulatory therapy was mostly held.
In most countries, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered the approach to persons with IBD. The few exceptions were mostly based on low burden of COVID-19 in individual communities. Regardless of resources or health care systems, gastroenterologists around the world took a similar approach to the management of IBD.