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Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Oct;98(10):2203-8.

Psychosocial determinants of relapse in ulcerative colitis: a longitudinal study.

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Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



To determine the association between psychosocial characteristics and time to relapse in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis.


Sixty patients with clinically and endoscopically inactive ulcerative colitis were followed for 1 yr, or less if they relapsed. Demographic, psychosocial, and clinical data were obtained. Stressful life events (Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Interview Life Events Scale), psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90R), and perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale) were recorded monthly by self-report. Multivariate time-dependent Cox regression was used to identify the independent determinants of earlier time to clinical relapse.


The patients' mean age was 39 yr (SD = 9.4), 37 (62%) were female, and 22 (37%) relapsed during the 1-yr follow-up. Univariate Cox regression indicated a weak association between number of stressful events in the preceding month and time to relapse (p = 0.09). This association strengthened in multivariate analysis (p = 0.02, hazard ratio = 1.26 per event, 95% CI = 1.04-1.53) after adjustment for significant covariates.


After controlling for demographic and clinical variables, more recent stressful events were associated with earlier time to relapse. These findings, which support a biopsychosocial model of disease, might help clinicians identify patients who might benefit from more intensive maintenance medical therapy and behavioral medicine interventions to reduce stress and improve coping.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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