Disparity between what patients want and what clinicians think

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease and their treating clinicians have different views regarding diet

Holt et al., JHND Early View


Diet and body composition play unclear roles in the pathogenesis, activity and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Evidence-based guidance regarding dietary modification in IBD is lacking. We aimed to determine the attitudes of IBD patients and clinicians to diet.


The present cross-sectional study comprised an online questionnaire distributed to members of a national IBD patient organisation, assessing demographics, anthropometry, disease phenotype and dietary beliefs. Dietitians, gastroenterologists and surgeons were targeted for a similar questionnaire as a result of membership of national professional bodies.


Nine hundred and twenty-eight patients (72.2% female; mean age 39.5 years; age range 5–91 years) responded. Two-thirds of the patients had Crohn’s disease. The mean reported body mass index was 24.9 kg m–2 and was significantly skewed to the right. Patients who had taken >10 courses of steroids were had a greater probability of being overweight or obese, independent of disease complications. Most patients (71%) assumed that their diet affected their IBD; 61% considered their IBD specialist disregarded the importance of diet. Of the 136 clinicians who responded, the majority felt that diet was a factor in symptoms and intestinal microbiota. More gastroenterologists (44%) than dietitians (17%) considered that diet had a role in the pathogenesis of IBD (P = 0.003). Twenty-six percent of patients reported receiving dietary advice from their IBD specialist, whereas 98% of gastroenterologists reported advice provision. Patients received diverse advice. Half of the patients followed recommendations provided by a clinician.


The present study demonstrates that IBD patients consider diet to be important in their disease. IBD clinicians from different disciplines have diverse views of the role of diet. Advice given to patients is heterogeneous, often perceived as inadequate and poorly followed.


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