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Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) negatively affects the patient's health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Only a few population-based studies have compared the HRQoL of patients with the background population. The aim of this study was to evaluate the HRQoL in a European cohort of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease 10 years after diagnosis (European Collaborative study group of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) compared with the national background population in each country and to assess possible country-specific differences.Patients with IBD from 7 European countries were invited to a follow-up visit 10 years after their diagnosis of IBD. We assessed their clinical and demographic data, including the generic HRQoL questionnaire short form health survey-36. Countrywise comparison with the background population was performed with z-scores using the Cohen's effect size index.Seven hundred sixty-nine patients were eligible for the study. We registered statistically significant and clinically relevant decreases in the short form health survey-36 dimensional scores in patients with symptoms at the time of follow-up and for patients reporting sick leave during the previous year or having received disablement pension. In the Netherlands and Norway, there was a moderate difference between the patients with IBD and the background population for the general health dimension.Overall, the HRQoL was not reduced in the IBD cohort compared with the background populations. However, in addition to older age and female gender, current symptoms at follow-up, disablement pension, and sick leave during the previous year were significantly associated with a reduced HRQoL in patients with IBD.