Roles of Healthcare Professionals in the Management of Chronic Gastrointestinal Diseases With a Focus on Primary Care: A Systematic Review

JGH Open. 2019 Aug 27;4(2):221-229. doi: 10.1002/jgh3.12235. eCollection 2020 Apr.

Sharmila S Prasad 1 2, Michael Potter 2 3, Simon Keely 1 2, Nicholas J Talley 2 3, Marjorie M Walker 2 3, Therése Kairuz 1


Author information

1Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy University of Newcastle Callaghan New South Wales Australia.

2Priority Research Centre, Digestive Health and Neurogastroenterology University of Newcastle New Lambton Heights New South Wales Australia.

3Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Medicine and Public Health University of Newcastle New Lambton Heights New South Wales Australia.


Background and aim: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of complex and chronic conditions that requires long-term care delivered by a group of healthcare professionals through a multidisciplinary care model. We conducted a systematic review to examine and understand the role of healthcare professionals in the primary care management of IBD, and identify the gaps in IBD management that could be filled by primary care providers such as general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists.

Methods: The search strategy retrieved published studies from five databases, and eligible articles were assessed for quality. A gray literature search of the websites of organizations was also undertaken.

Results: Twenty-one studies were included, of which 19 were peer-reviewed research articles and two reports were from organizational bodies. Although studies have shown the roles of GPs, pharmacists, dietitians, and psychologists in IBD management, nurses and gastroenterologists were the key drivers delivering specialized care to IBD patients. Many key services are accessible only for hospital inpatients (tertiary care) or through outpatient clinics (secondary care) with an absence of a multidisciplinary approach including GPs and pharmacists.

Conclusion: Gastroenterologists and nurses have an important role in the delivery of care to patients with chronic gastrointestinal diseases including IBD, coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and functional dyspepsia. The role of nurses includes provision of specialized care to IBD patients, as well as supportive care such as education, monitoring of therapy, and ongoing assistance. The available evidence shows many opportunities for primary care providers to play a more active role in the management of IBD patients.

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