Children and young people with inflammatory bowel disease attend less school than their healthy peers

Barnes C1, Ashton JJ2,3, Borca F4, Cullen M1, Walker DM5, Beattie RM1. Arch Dis Child. 2020 Jan 14. pii: archdischild-2019-317765. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2019-317765. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Southampton Children's Hospital, Southampton, UK.

Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Southampton Children's Hospital, Southampton, UK j.ashton@soton.ac.uk.

Human Genetics and Genomic Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.

NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK.

Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


OBJECTIVE: Chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can impact negatively on education and social development. Examining the impact of IBD on school/college attendance for children and young people (CYP) is vital to provide targeted support to patients, families and schools.

METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional survey to determine the school/college attendance rates, the reasons for absence related to IBD and facilitators or barriers to school/college attendance. In a subset of patients followed up locally, we performed a detailed review of hospital attendance data to assess healthcare burden.

RESULTS: Two hundred and thirty-one questionnaires were given to CYP with IBD aged 5-17 years. Response rate was 74% (final sample 169). The median school/college attendance rate was 92.5%, significantly lower than all children in England (95.2%). 39.6% of children with IBD were persistently absent, defined nationally as missing 10% or more of school. Only five children (3%) had a 100% attendance record. Increasing age and use of monoclonal therapy were predictors of poor school attendance. Concerns about feeling unwell at school/college, access to toilets, keeping up with work and teachers' understanding of IBD are the main issues for CYP with IBD. There was a significant negative correlation between number of days in hospital and school attendance.

CONCLUSION: IBD has a significant impact on school/college attendance, with hospital attendance, disease burden and school difficulties being major factors. Employing strategies to minimise healthcare burden and developing a partnership between health and education to support children with IBD will serve to facilitate school/college attendance.

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