Psychosocial Issues and Kids with IBD

Treatment of pediatric IBD consists of medical therapies to reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Yet, the IBD pediatric population is also at risk for psychosocial issues that will need treatment. Researchers are examining the overall impact of the disease in children and the treatment process. Medical therapy is being coupled with the possibility of psychosocial treatment to ensure healthy development into adulthood and maintaining a high standard of health related quality of life (HRQOL).

Some psychosocial issues that kids with IBD may be prone to are depression, anxiety, social isolation, altered self-image, family conflict, medication adherence problems and school absences. In general, children with IBD are concerned and affected by their:

  • Anger about IBD symptoms and treatment
  • Body image
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of control over school and extracurricular activities

Overall, adolescent patients experience more impaired HRQOL than younger patients. HRQOL for pediatric patients varies based on age as well as gender. Boys with IBD tend to internalize problem behavior and have significantly different HRQOL, primarily in the realms of emotions, family functioning, and their physicality -- they may have reduced strength and short stature. Girls with IBD tend to differ from control groups solely in family functioning, and reported disease concerns related to relationships and self-image/weight gain.

Improving quality of life and securing a more successful transition into adulthood can be achieved through the following strategies:

Adolescent IBD patients thrive when they are provided with opportunities to:

  1. Experience and prepare for normal life
  2. Integrate
  3. Lead an active lifestyle focusing less on the impact of disease

Adolescents with the most successful adjustment to IBD:

  1. Accept their illness and their boundaries as a part of life
  2. Engage in activities that provide them with opportunities for growth
  3. Receive support

Parents and caregivers should be evaluated for HRQOL, as their HRQOL directly impacts their child's. Targeted social and psychological interventions are useful when impaired HRQOL is identified in adolescent patients. Appropriate interventions and providing additional support and information to both patients and their parents (or caregivers), can ultimately improve outcomes for adolescent patients. Finally, a strong doctor-patient relationship that provides ample opportunity to address fears, concerns, and unanticipated flare-ups is an important element of providing optimal care for the adolescent IBD population.

The IBD Help Center is just a phone call away. Dial 888.694.8872 to speak with an Information Specialist.

For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

About this resource

Published: June 1, 2012

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