World IBD Day: IBD and well-being

This year the theme for World Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Day on 19 May 2021 is IBD and wellbeing. The focus is on raising awareness of the psychological impact on people living with IBD.

IBD is the term for conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The two most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, and ulcerative colitis, which affects only the colon and rectum. IBD affects almost 7 million people worldwide, with diagnosis typically occurring from adolescence up to age 40. Coming to terms with having a chronic, life-long disease can be a challenge, especially for young people diagnosed with IBD.

The symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are often similar with common symptoms, including diarrhoea (sometimes with blood and mucus), abdominal pain and cramping, bowel movement urgency, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss and anaemia. The symptoms and their severity vary from person to person depending on the extent and severity of inflammation. People with IBD may also have periods of remission followed by flare ups when their symptoms are more active. While treatment outcomes generally focus on clinical improvements, improvements in quality of life and control of the specific symptoms of abdominal pain and bowel movement urgency are of high priority for patients.

Given the variety of symptoms and their severity, as well as the unpredictability of IBD, people living with IBD experience differing effects on their day-to-day lives. This can include their ability to participate in social activities and to work or attend school, particularly during flare ups. Coping with the symptoms and unpredictability of IBD can, therefore, have a major psychosocial impact on people’s lives. People with IBD may feel emotional and psychological distress at loss of bowel control, have issues with body image and sexual intimacy, feel self-conscious and embarrassed by their symptoms, feel socially isolated, and experience a fear of dependency. Some may also experience anxiety and/or depression, sleep disturbances and fatigue that strongly impair their quality of life, particularly during flare ups, but there are often reports of reduced quality of life even when the disease is less active or in remission.

As IBD can have a substantial impact on patients’ wellbeing, we appreciate the decision to highlight the impact of living with IBD and shine a spotlight on real-life experiences for this year’s World IBD Day. Hopefully, amplifying the voices and stories of people living with IBD will emphasise the importance of a holistic approach to the management of these conditions, encourage better communication between healthcare professionals and patients, and lead to better clinical and psychological outcomes for people living with IBD.

At Bioscript we are proud to support our clients in the IBD therapy area, offering unique insights and expertise to ensure our clients’ communications on their treatments for IBD are of the highest quality and reach the intended audiences. If you would like to learn more about our experience in IBD, please contact us at


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