Perceived Impairment in Sports Participation in Adolescents With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: A Preliminary Examination

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Physical activity (PA) is important for adolescents with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) given the increased risk of developing osteoporosis and the increased risk of IBD-related complications among those with IBD and obesity. Symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and frequent bowel movements can interfere with PA. Sports participation is an important source of PA for adolescents; however, the extent to which IBD interferes with sports participation is unstudied. The present study aimed to examine demographic, health-related, physical, and psychosocial correlates of perceived impairment in sports participation.


Seventy-six adolescents (M[SD] = 14.5 [1.8] years, 45% girls) completed surveys of perceived impairment in sports participation, demographics, physical health, and psychosocial health. Physicians rated disease activity at enrolment. All participants were diagnosed with IBD for at least a year and prescribed a daily oral medication.


Nearly half of participants reported at least occasional interference in sports participation because of their IBD. Active disease (P = 0.014), older age (P = 0.006), and poorer disease-specific quality of life, and quality of life in physical health and psychosocial domains were associated with greater impairment in sports participation in bivariate analyses (P < 0.001). In regression analyses, systemic disease-related symptoms, body image concerns, and older age emerged as the strongest predictors of impairment in sports participation (P < 0.05).


Older adolescents, those with greater systemic symptoms, and those with poorer body image may be particularly at risk for impairment in sports participation. Addressing barriers to sports participation may be a useful strategy in enhancing PA in this patient group.

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