Variations in initial assessment and management of inflammatory bowel disease across Great Britain and Ireland

A Sawczenko, R Lynn, B K Sandhu
Archives of Disease in Childhood 2003, 88 (11): 990-4

BACKGROUND: There are no published data from Great Britain and Ireland detailing the initial management of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

AIMS: To prospectively record the initial investigation and treatment of children aged less than 16 years with newly diagnosed IBD.

METHODS: For 13 months, between June 1998 and June 1999, 3247 paediatricians, adult gastroenterologists, and surgeons across the UK and Ireland were prospectively surveyed each month and asked to report every newly diagnosed case of childhood IBD. Reporters subsequently completed a postal questionnaire about each case.

RESULTS: A total of 739 new IBD cases were reported from 172 institutions. Significant variations were observed in the investigation and treatment of these cases, when examined by number of cases reported per institution, or by the specialists providing care. There were wide regional variations in the proportion of children having access to paediatric gastroenterology services. Overall, one third of children received care from an adult service, and a tenth care exclusively from an adult gastroenterologist. Children with Crohn's disease who had some or all of their care from adult services were more likely to receive systemic steroids and less likely to receive dietary therapy; those with ulcerative colitis were more likely to receive rectal steroids and to have surgery. Height and weight were also less likely to be recorded in those whose care involved adult services.

CONCLUSION: Current specialist provision, and initial investigation and treatment of IBD, is heterogeneous. Optimisation of care is likely to be achieved by greater access to specialist paediatric gastroenterology services for all those with suspected IBD.

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