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Can J Gastroenterol. 1999 Nov;13(9):728-32.

Influence of sex and disease on illness-related concerns in inflammatory bowel disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario.


Identifying the normal concerns of people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (CD) facilitates a comprehensive approach to their medical care. Clinically, it can be easily appreciated that the concerns of men and women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may differ and that this may have a substantial impact on both coping and treatment decisions. However, sex differences have received little empirical study.


Significant differences between the sexes on the 25 items of the Rating Form of IBD Patient Concerns (RFIPC) were determined in 343 subjects by univariate ANOVA with disease type and sex as factors, correcting for multiple comparisons and covarying for IBD symptom severity.


Compared with men, women reported higher levels of IBD symptom severity and higher overall RFIPC scores. Women were more concerned than men about feelings related to their bodies, attractiveness, feeling alone and having children. There was an interaction between disease and sex regarding concern about sexual performance and intimacy. In both cases, men with CD reported less concern than each other comparison group. The illness concerns that differ between sexes are not the most intense concerns in either sex.


These results confirm that sex has a significant influence on a number of illness concerns, particularly concerns related to self-image and relationships. The interaction of disease type and sex with respect to concern over sexual performance and intimacy is open to several potential explanations and requires further research. Sex differences should be considered in the treatment of IBD. Specific inquiry into sex-specific concerns may be useful for the clinician. Further research is required to replicate these retrospective findings.

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