Substantial impact of illness perceptions on quality of life in patients with Crohn's disease

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Background and aims: Crohn's disease (CD) negatively impact patients' health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We used the common sense model to examine the contribution of illness perceptions and coping to HRQOL, in addition to clinical and socio-demographic characteristics. This provides insight into potential targets for psychological interventions aimed at improving HRQOL.

Methods: Consecutive CD patients undergoing colonoscopy were included. Disease activity was assessed by a clinical and an endoscopic index. Patients completed questionnaires assessing illness perceptions (IPQ-R), coping (Utrecht Coping List), self-perceived health, neuroticism, and HRQOL. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed to assess the contribution of illness perceptions and coping to HRQOL. Illness perceptions were compared to patients with rheumatoid arthritis, myocardial infarction (MI), and head and neck cancer (HNC).

Results: Of 82 CD patients, mean age was 42 ± 14 years. Clinical and endoscopic active disease was present in 42 (52%) and 49 (60%) patients, respectively. HRQOL was strongly impaired by clinical active disease (r = − 0.79), self-perceived health (r = − 0.60), and perceived consequences of CD (r = − 0.54), but correlated poorly with endoscopic disease activity (r = − 0.29). Illness perceptions significantly contributed 3–27% to HRQOL. Coping had no contributory role. CD patients perceived similarly strong consequences of their illness as patients with MI and HNC and had the strongest thoughts about the chronic nature of their illness.

Conclusions: CD has a similar impact on patients' daily lives as was observed in patients with MI and HNC. Illness perceptions contribute to HRQOL and should therefore be incorporated in clinical practice, thereby improving HRQOL.

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