Physician perspectives on unresolved issues in the use of conventional therapy in Crohn's disease: Results from an international survey and discussion programme
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BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Data on the optimal use of conventional therapies in Crohn's disease are lacking in guidelines. An educational programme was established to explore questions raised in clinical practice and to provide practical answers. METHODS: Telephone interviews with 96 gastroenterologists and a web survey of 1370 gastroenterologists identified 26 key questions. Ten questions were taken forward to the next stage based on the opinion of an International Steering Committee. Draft answers to the questions were prepared from available evidence following a literature search. The draft answers were debated in national meetings of participating countries (n=36) and voted on using a standard scoring system. Revised answers went forward to an international meeting and were debated and voted on using the same methodology. Final answers were developed, based on evidence and clinical experience of the participants. RESULTS: Evidence on corticosteroid and immunomodulator use such as dosage, timing and duration, choice of drug or regimen, and safety is scarce. Key points of the answers included the importance of: identifying patients with poor prognosis; early intervention with optimal doses of immunomodulators; avoiding prolonged or repetitive corticosteroid therapy; achieving corticosteroid-free remission; achieving a balance between clinical benefit and safety when intensifying or prolonging therapy or combining different agents; re-evaluating therapy at appropriate time points; and considering the role of biomarkers and mucosal healing. CONCLUSIONS: The answers to 10 key questions were based on available evidence and clinical experience of programme participants. It is hoped they will be of practical use in everyday gastroenterology practice.
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