Psychosocial Impact of Food and Nutrition in people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease: a Qualitative Study

L. D. Hughes, J. O. Lindsay, M. C. Lomer, S. Ayis, L. King, M. Morgan, K. Whelan

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Introduction: Food and eating can be a source of pleasure, means of social interaction and peer acceptance. Having Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may alter these psychosocial factors because of painful or embarrassing symptoms and/or undernutrition resulting in activity limitation. However, little is currently known about the impact of IBD on the psychosocial factors of food and quality of life. This study aimed to determine patients' experiences of the social and psychological impacts of food on people with IBD.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 28 patients regarding their experiences of food and eating in relation to their IBD. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Concepts were labelled through line by line coding using a constant comparative approach based on grounded theory

Results: Mean age and BMI were 36.9 years and 23.1, respectively, 46% were men, 57% had Crohn’s Disease (CD) and 29% had had IBD-related surgery. Median (range) disease duration was 6.5 years (1-40). Emerging themes were: (1)Trigger foods “I’m not sure what flares up my IBD”; (2)Family & friends “I don’t have meals with my friends”; (3)Eating in restaurants “Going to restaurants is really difficult because of my IBD”; (4)Toilet issues “I have to go to the toilet whenever I eat” and “I eat less so I have to go to the toilet less”; (5)Practicalities of cooking & shopping “Cooking different meals for my IBD upsets me” and “It takes longer to shop for food because I read the labels ”; and (6) Emotions connected with eating “I’m hard on myself when it comes to coping with eating & drinking” and “I don’t want to be the one that kills the fun for everyone.” Feelings of embarrassment, guilt, burden and disappointment around eating were evident for many patients. There were also positive comments around control, adaptive eating and knowledge and support for patients who have developed a successful eating regimen

Conclusion: The interviews identified psychosocial issues relating to food and drink for IBD patients whilst their disease was active. However, patients, (especially CD) experienced issues that impacted on their daily eating and drinking as well as social relationships because of self-imposed dietary restraints even during quiescence. The problems and strategies used by patients, particularly during remission, were not known and highlight important areas to be targeted to improve quality of life. Further work is planned to develop a food-related quality of life questionnaire that can be used in the clinical and research setting
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA168
Pages (from-to)N/A
Number of pages1
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
EventAnnual Meeting of the British Society of Gastroenterology 2013 - Scotland, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jun 201327 Jun 2013


  • Nutrition
  • thematic analysis


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