Health Care Services in IBD: Factors Associated with Service Utilization and Preferences for Service Options for Routine and Urgent Care

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We aimed to explore factors associated with health service utilization and preference for services, including alternatives to attending the emergency department (ED) when experiencing mild to moderate or severe symptoms.


A total of 1143 persons (46% response rate) aged 18 to 65 years in the population-based University of Manitoba IBD Research Registry participated in the survey.


Although 61% had a gastroenterologist, when experiencing active symptoms, only 29% felt they could call their gastroenterologist for an urgent appointment, and 42% could call their gastroenterologist for telephone advice. Nine percent of the respondents visited the ED in the previous year. If having severe symptoms, 48% said that they would attend the ED. Visits to the ED were related to higher bowel symptom severity and high health anxiety. When experiencing severe symptoms, women, persons with Crohn's disease and those with high health anxiety, indicated that they would be more likely to use the ED. Considering services which could be available in the future respondents indicated that if acutely symptomatic they would be very likely or likely to use the following services: phone contact with inflammatory bowel disease nurse (77%), phone contact with a gastroenterologist (75%), and going to a walk-in gastroenterology clinic (71%).


Persons with inflammatory bowel disease are receptive to options other than the ED when experiencing inflammatory bowel disease symptoms; however, attending the ED remains a prominent choice. Improved access to specialized care may improve timeliness of care and reduce ED attendance. Future research should include the impact of health anxiety on health care utilization.

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