Ulcerative Colitis Flare-Ups: Educating Patients

Author: Aimee Simone, Assistant Editor

Although patients with ulcerative colitis recognize flare-up symptoms, a new study published in the April 2013 issue of Gastroenterology Research, reports that many patients do not consider these symptoms as a reason to visit their physician.

The researchers surveyed 260 patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Japan to determine the gap between symptom recognition and physician visits. Participants were asked to describe symptoms of flare-ups and to describe symptoms that required a doctor visit. Gaps were defined if patients listed critical symptoms, aggravated symptoms, or persistent symptoms as symptoms requiring a physician visit. The researchers also analyzed participants’ responses to determine whether patients delayed physician visits when they experienced flare-up symptoms. Obvious delay was determined if a patient’s description of flare-up symptoms included critical symptoms.

A gap was found in approximately 56% of patients. Obvious delay was determined in almost 30% of participants. The researchers also found that about half of patients would consider consulting with their physician if their symptoms became worse while the other half would want to visit their physician immediately.

The authors conclude that patients can accurately recognize flare-up symptoms, yet half of the participants would not consider them as a sign to visit their physician. They suggest that health care professionals educate patients in order to improve their conditions.