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OTU-034 IBD psychological support pilot reduces ibd symptoms and improves psychological wellbeing
  1. Rona McGeer1,
  2. Anna Ascott2,
  3. Melanie Smith1,
  4. Jessica Eccles2,
  5. Lisa Page2,
  6. Emma Hills1,
  7. Anja St.Clair-Jones1,
  8. Jemima Gregory2
  1. 1Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS trust, Brighton and Sussex, UK
  2. 2Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton and Sussex, UK


Introduction Growing evidence suggests that psychological stress can increase activity of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)1,2,3,4. However there is insufficient access to psychological support services for IBD patients in the UK5. Current evidence demonstrates that psychological therapies improve quality of life in the short term, and supports the efficacy of antidepressant medication6 in improving disease activity.

Methods Our digestive disease unit at a major teaching hospital secured funding to pilot a Psychological Support Service for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (PSSPIBD) to provide outpatient psychological support to patients with IBD.

Between October 2015 to March 2017, 85 patients were assessed and treated by PSSPIBD, staffed by a psychiatrist (0.1WTE) and clinical health psychologist (0.3WTE) with special interests in IBD. Referrals were made for patients experiencing psychological difficulties related to their IBD by gastroenterologists, IBD nurses, pharmacists and stoma nurses.

Results The most common reason for referral into the service was support adjusting to IBD and its symptoms (e.g. pain, fatigue, incontinence, tolerating uncertainty) (55%), followed by anxiety (30%) and depression (10%). 75% of patients seen were female. We demonstrated improvements across a balanced scorecard of four dimensions: clinical effectiveness, service utilisation, patient satisfaction and referrer satisfaction.

Clinical effectiveness was measured through the use of validated questionnaires.

Short IBD Questionnaire (SIBD) scores pre- and post-psychological therapy showed significant reductions in symptoms across all domains (p=0.003) with notable improvement in systemic symptoms (fatigue and energy levels) and emotional and social functioning. Statistically significant improvements (p=0.003) were seen in Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) depression score, and there was a strong trend of improvements in anxiety scores, using Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) and quality of life (p=0.061 using Euro-QoL). Patient and referrer satisfaction with the PSSPIBD was very high: 90% of patients and all referrers completing the feedback rated the service as excellent. Initial data comparing service use in one year before and after engaging with PSSPIBD found a statistically significantly reduction in outpatient appointments by 62.5% (p=0.008) and in CT and MRI scans by 76.2% (p=0.05).

Conclusions The pilot PSSPIBD demonstrated significant improvements across all domains, notably symptomatology and service utilisation. There should be increased access to integrated psychological support services with further evidence gathered of success across all domains.

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