Experiences of patients living with inflammatory bowel disease in rural communities

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Rebecca K. Britt *
Andrew Englebert
(*) Corresponding Author:
Rebecca K. Britt | rkbritt@ua.edu

Abstract

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease that often has fluctuating and painful symptoms. IBD patients must cope with a lifelong illness with relapses, remissions, and varied treatments that can affect their overall quality of life. Patients living in a rural setting are faced with further challenges such as access to healthcare, physician availability, and socioeconomic factors. For the current study, we interviewed adult patients in a clinic who were diagnosed with IBD for at least 3 years to better understand their experiences with the aim to inform intervention and educations for patients and physicians. Through a thematic analysis, we argue that five themes emerged from the data: i) IBD etiology, ii) ceding self-care, iii) environmental factors associated with disclosure, iv) stigma, and v) environmental obstacles to care. We suggest opportunities for research and collaboration among researchers and practitioners to help reduce stigma associated with IBD and promote health among rural communities.


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