P166 Impact of consultation frequency and time to diagnosis on subsequent Inflammatory Bowel Disease outcomes

Jayasooriya, N.(1);Saxena, S.(2);Blackwell, J.(1);Petersen , I.(3);Bottle, A.(2);Creese, H.(2);Pollok, R.(1);

(1)St George's University Hospital London, Gastroenterology, London, United Kingdom;(2)Imperial College London- UK, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, London, United Kingdom;(3)University College London- UK, Institute of Epidemiology & Health, London, United Kingdom; POP-IBD STUDY GROUP


The impact of length of time between the point of initial contact, at symptom onset, with a health-care provider and diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on subsequent disease outcomes, is unclear. Diagnosis can be challenging and delay common, with an excess of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms reported 3 years before the diagnosis of IBD compared to the background population.1  

 We describe the impact of time to diagnosis and frequency of consultation amongst individuals with GI symptoms who later go on to develop ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD).


Using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a nationally representative research database, incident cases of IBD were identified between 2003 and 2016. GI symptoms were defined as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or rectal bleeding. The proportion of individuals consulting for incident GI symptoms within 3 years prior to IBD diagnosis was identified.   Using a multivariable regression model we evaluated the association between time to diagnosis from incident consultation and consultation frequency for GI symptoms on disease outcomes (corticosteroid (CS) and thiopurine (TP) use, hospitalisation and major abdominal surgery) 5 years after IBD diagnosis.


Six thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven incident cases of IBD were identified during the study period. Within 3 years prior to IBD diagnosis, 2,645 (38%) patients had an incident presentation with GI symptoms in primary care (782 CD, 1,863 UC). Presentation with GI symptoms occurred >3 years before IBD diagnosis in 2,842 (41%) of patients. There was no recorded primary care consultation for 1,480 (21%) patients.

Time to diagnosis from initial consultation was not associated with worse subsequent disease outcomes. However, amongst patients later diagnosed with UC, ≥3 prior consultations for GI symptoms was associated with an increased subsequent risk of CS use (HR 1.19, 95% CI 1.05 -1.36), CS dependency (HR 1.50, 95% CI 1.10 -2.05), TP use (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.22 – 2.11) and colectomy (HR 1.91, 95% CI 1.21 – 3.04). Amongst patients with CD, ≥3 prior consultations were associated with an increased subsequent risk of major abdominal surgery (HR 1.75, 95% CI 1.22 -2.5) and hospitalisation (HR 1.58, 95% CI 1.18 -2.11)


Frequent primary care consultation with GI symptoms, but not symptom duration prior to IBD diagnosis, was associated with worse subsequent disease outcomes. Steps are needed to expedite IBD diagnosis to reduce the risk of adverse disease outcomes.


Blackwell, J. et al. Prevalence and Duration of Gastrointestinal Symptoms Before Diagnosis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Predictors of Timely Specialist Review: A Population-Based Study. J. Crohn’s Colitis (2020)