Self-managed eHealth Disease Monitoring in Children and Adolescents with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

To evaluate the impact of eHealth on disease activity, the need for hospital contacts, and medical adherence in children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Furthermore, to assess eHealth's influence on school attendance and quality of life (QoL).

Methods:

Patients with IBD, 10 to 17 years attending a public university hospital, were prospectively randomized to a 2-year open label case-controlled eHealth intervention. The eHealth-group used the web-application young.constant-care.com (YCC) on a monthly basis and in case of flare-ups, and were seen at one annual preplanned outpatient visit. The control-group continued standard visits every third month. Every 3 months, both groups had blood and fecal calprotectin tested and the following were assessed: escalation in medication, disease activity, hospital contacts, medical adherence, school absence, and QoL.

Results:

Fifty-three patients in nonbiological treatment were included (27 eHealth/26 control). We found no differences between the groups regarding escalation in treatment and disease activity (symptoms, fecal calprotectin, and blood). The number of total outpatient visits (mean: eHealth 3.26, SEM 0.51; control 7.31, SEM 0.69; P < 0.0001) and IBD-related school absence (mean days: eHealth 1.6, SEM 0.5; control 16.5, SEM 4.4; P < 0.002) was significantly lower in the eHealth-group. No differences in medical adherence and QoL were found. Adherence to YCC was 81% (384 of the 475 expected entries). None of the patients or parents felt unsafe using the eHealth system.

Conclusions:

The use of eHealth in children and adolescents with IBD is feasible, does not lead to impaired disease control, and can be managed by the patients without risk of increased disease activity.

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