Health concerns associated with travelling with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): a questionnaire survey

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When travelling, patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have a higher risk of morbidity. We identified barriers to travel, specific health concerns and several areas for service improvement among patients. In total, 136 patients were given a 32-question service improvement questionnaire. Of these, 89% travelled abroad, 30% reported that IBD limited travel and 40% said it affected choice of destination. Fourty-seven percent of patients travelled abroad without health insurance and 7% were refused. Seventy-eight percent wanted pre-travel advice from doctors in the future. Popular service improvement options included providing written prescriptions (91%) and management plans (75%). Sixty-three percent of patients were unaware of needing to avoid live vaccines while on immunosuppressants. Ninety-two percent were unaware that high altitudes could precipitate flares; 27% travelled abroad to high-altitude destinations, of which 46% subsequently had flare-ups. Existing IBD travel services remain unknown such as the ‘Can’t wait’ card (72%) and ‘IBD passport’ (96%). Service improvements in the IBD clinic need to be implemented to facilitate safer travel overseas.

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