Background and Aim
Data on patient needs and access to psychological services in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are scarce. This study aimed to describe the levels of distress and the needs, attitudes, and access to psychological services for people within Australia against established Australian IBD Standards.
An online cross‐sectional survey was conducted with Australians ≥16 years old recruited via Crohn's & Colitis Australia membership, public and private clinics, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. K10 was used to measure psychological distress. The Chi‐square test was used to compare those with and without distress on key variables.
Overall, 731 respondents provided complete data (71.5% female, mean age 46.5 years). Overall, 50% of respondents reported distress; only 15.2% were currently seeing a mental health practitioner; only 16.1% were asked about their mental health by their IBD specialist or IBD nurse; and only 12.2% reported access to a mental health practitioner as part of their IBD service. Those with psychological distress were significantly less satisfied with their IBD care; more commonly hospitalized; had an active disease, fistula or perianal disease, pain, or fatigue; and were receiving steroids, opioids, or antidepressants (all P < 0.05). As many as 68.2% of those with severe distress were not seeing a mental health practitioner.
The integrated biopsychosocial model of health care, with regular mental health screening and good access to mental health professionals, is requested by people living with IBD to improve their outcomes.