- A Charles Sturt University PhD research survey seeks the Australian inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) populations’ perspectives on their health status, quality of life, management options, and participation in physical activity
- IBD is a chronic disease which consists of two main conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are lifelong and incurable
- IBD-specific physical activity guidelines can assist to optimise disease management, but research into many factors is needed to develop physical activity guidelines
An Australia-wide survey by a Charles Sturt University researcher hopes to add to our understanding of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and its various forms in order to improve treatment and outcomes for those with the conditions.
PhD candidate Ms Kelly Baker (pictured left) in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences in Bathurst said the Australian IBD population is often estimated to be between 80,000 to 100,000.
“However, a recent Australian study suggests a higher prevalence with 653 per 100,000 people, 306 with Crohn’s disease and 334 with ulcerative colitis, which suggests there are more than 160,000 affected people,” she said.
Ms Baker has long had an interest in the intricacies of the human body, the complexity of health, and the impact of physical activity on health.
She seeks participants Australia-wide for her survey, which explores a range of issues experienced by anyone over the age of 18 diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and receiving healthcare in Australia.
“Throughout my undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Exercise Science) I developed an interest in the gut, its interactions in the body and its contribution to an individual’s health,” Ms Baker said.
“My interest in IBD grew as I gained an understanding of the chronic diseases, which consists of two main conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are lifelong and incurable, and how the Australian IBD population are underrepresented.
“When a research gap was identified between the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and exercise, I was immediately intrigued and pursued that research throughout my Honours study and into my PhD.”
The survey aims to explore the Australian IBD population, their perspectives on their health status, quality of life, management options and participation of physical activity.
Ms Baker said exercise has been deemed safe and effective for those with IBD, however, unlike people without IBD who have the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines to reference for exercise, there are no specific guidelines provided for people with IBD that matches their inflammatory conditions.
“IBD-specific physical activity guidelines can assist to optimise disease management, although, there are many factors to consider when developing physical activity guidelines,” she said.
“To set IBD specific guidelines it is fundamental to understand current physical activity behaviours, attitudes toward exercise, possible limitations as well as preferences of physical activity; all this information is collected in the survey to assist the development of guidelines.
“New and continual research remains essential to prioritise provision of treatment, especially from assessing the perspectives of individuals living with IBD.
“The information captured in this survey can increase awareness of IBD, adequately represent the population to maximise care and adherence to treatment strategies, guide future research in this domain, and assist to optimise the therapeutic benefits of exercise for IBD.”
To participate in this research, which is open until the end of 2022, please complete the online survey.
People can access and complete the survey, it is strictly confidential and takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. If they wish to contact Ms Baker or would like the outcome of the survey, her contact details are provided in the survey.
An independent body that support patients with IBD, Crohn’s and Colitis Australia, is supporting the research by sharing the survey on social media and with its members. May is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, and in 2022 the message is ‘IBD has no age’.
Ms Baker proposes to undertake additional follow-on research to assess the inflammatory response following acute exercise protocols to help guide recommendation of physical activity to the IBD community.
“To implement exercise as a complementary and/or alternative management strategy it is pertinent is assess the inflammatory response following exercise, especially with IBD as they have dysregulated inflammatory levels in the bowels,” she said.
“Quantifying the inflammatory response following exercise is essential to understand the beneficial and protective effects exercise provides, the magnitude of the effects, and to further explore if exercise can be used to alleviate active disease states and subsequent symptoms through the amelioration of disordered physiological processes associated with IBD.”