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Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Dec;104(12):2959-69. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.529. Epub 2009 Sep 15.

Stress coping, distress, and health perceptions in inflammatory bowel disease and community controls.

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  • 1University of Manitoba Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical and Research Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



This study compares a community inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) sample of individuals with a matched non-IBD community sample of individuals on psychological functioning and health perceptions.


Participants in the population-based Manitoba IBD Cohort Study (n=388) were directly compared with sex-, age-, and region-matched controls from a national random-sample health survey on the aspects of psychological health, coping, and perceived general health.


Overall, the IBD sample had lower psychological well-being and mastery, as well as higher distress than did the non-IBD controls (P<or=0.02). Those with IBD used avoidant coping significantly more often, and active coping modestly more often than did the non-IBD sample; both had similar levels of "self-soothing" behaviors. Patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis had similarly poor levels of functioning along these dimensions compared with the non-IBD sample, as did those with active disease (P<0.01). However, those with inactive disease were similar to the non-IBD sample, and had modestly higher mastery levels. Whereas nearly half of the non-IBD group reported chronic health conditions, those with IBD were threefold more likely to report poorer health (odds ratio 3.07, 95% confidence interval: 2.10-4.47). Psychological factors explained a greater amount of variance in perceived health for the IBD than for the non-IBD sample.


Those with IBD have significantly poorer psychological health than do those without IBD and view their general health status more negatively, although adaptive stress-coping strategies were similar. However, when disease is quiescent there is little detriment to functioning. Active disease should be a flag to consider psychological needs in the care of an IBD patient.

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