Quality of Life in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease
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To investigate the effect of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on the quality of life, we interviewed 43 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and 54 with Crohn's disease. Patients identified frequent and important problems in five areas. Primary bowel symptoms, systemic symptoms, and altered emotional function were common; functional and social impairment were less frequent. Systemic symptoms such as fatigue were more prevalent in patients with Crohn's disease. Apart from primary bowel complaints, patients seldom volunteered other facets of quality of life impairment; this was particularly true for impairment of emotional function. We conclude that despite troublesome intestinal and systemic symptoms, most patients with IBD avoid major disruption in work and personal lives. Physicians must inquire specifically about emotional problems relating to IBD; in particular, fear of surgery is important to address. Psychosocial interventions should be targeted to those patients with problems in this area.
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