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E-health empowers patients with ulcerative colitis: a randomised controlled trial of the web-guided ‘Constant-care’ approach
  1. Margarita Elkjaer1,
  2. Mary Shuhaibar2,
  3. Johan Burisch1,
  4. Yvonne Bailey2,
  5. Hanne Scherfig1,
  6. Birgit Laugesen3,
  7. Søren Avnstrøm3,
  8. Ebbe Langholz4,
  9. Colm O'Morain2,
  10. Elsebeth Lynge5,
  11. Pia Munkholm1
  1. 1Digestive Disease Center Herlev Hospital, Medical Section, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology, Adelaide and Meath Hospital incorporating the National Children Hospital/Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Amager Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4Department of Medical Gastroenterology, Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Institute of Public Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Pia Munkholm, Digestive Disease Center, Medical Section, Herlev University Hospital Herlev Ringvej 75, 2730 Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark; piamun01{at}


Background The natural history of ulcerative colitis requires continuous monitoring of medical treatment via frequent outpatient visits. The European health authorities' focus on e-health is increasing. Lack of easy access to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) clinics, patients' education and understanding of the importance of early treatment at relapse is leading to poor compliance. To overcome these limitations a randomised control trial ‘Constant-care’ was undertaken in Denmark and Ireland.

Methods 333 patients with mild/moderate ulcerative colitis and 5-aminosalicylate acid treatment were randomised to either a web-group receiving disease specific education and self-treatment via or a control group continuing the usual care for 12 months. A historical control group was included to test the comparability with the control group. We investigated: feasibility of the approach, its influence on patients' compliance, knowledge, quality of life (QoL), disease outcomes, safety and health care costs.

Results 88% of the web patients preferred using the new approach. Adherence to 4 weeks of acute treatment was increased by 31% in Denmark and 44% in Ireland compared to the control groups. In Denmark IBD knowledge and QoL were significantly improved in web patients. Median relapse duration was 18 days (95% CI 10 to 21) in the web versus 77 days (95% CI 46 to 108) in the control group. The number of acute and routine visits to the outpatient clinic was lower in the web than in the control group, resulting in a saving of 189 euro/patient/year. No difference in the relapse frequency, hospitalisation, surgery or adverse events was observed. The historical control group was comparable with the control group.

Conclusion The new web-guided approach on is feasible, safe and cost effective. It empowers patients with ulcerative colitis without increasing their morbidity and depression. It has yet to be shown whether this strategy can change the natural disease course of ulcerative colitis in the long term.

  • Web-guided therapy
  • ulcerative colitis
  • compliance
  • self-management
  • cost
  • 5-Aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA)

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  • Funding Colitis Crohn Patient Organisation, Moran's Foundation, Vibeke Binder & Povl Riis' Foundation, Bayer Health Care Funding, Augustinus Foundation, Munkholms Foundation, Tillotts Funding, Scientific Council at Herlev Hospital, Prof. Fagerhol Research Foundation, Aase & Einar Danielsen Foundation, Ole Trock-Jansen & Hustrus Foundation, and European Crohn Colitis Organisation.

  • Competing interests PM is member of the advisory boards in Ferring, Tillots, MSD and Swedish Orphan. ME is member of the advisory board in Swedish Orphan. HS is member of the advisory board in Swedish Orphan. CO'M is on the International Advisory Board of Abbott, MSD, and Shire Pharmaceutical Company. He has unrestricted educational grants from Abbott and MSD.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Danish Ethical (KA 05115) and Irish Ethical Committee of St James's Hospital and the Adelaide & Meath Hospital incorporating The National Children Hospital at Tallaght.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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