Research Ideas  

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Welcome to IBD Partners Research Ideas Page!

In this area you will be able to:

  • Propose, vote on, and discuss research ideas
  • View current studies
  • View published research

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You are an active participant in  IBD Partners research prioritization process! Have you ever had a question about IBD that you wish science could answer? Tell us what research is important to you!

Here, you can submit a research idea to the community, cast your votes, and discuss research ideas proposed by other members. Please make your research question as specific as possible. Other members will vote on your research idea, and we will prioritize research ideas with the most votes.

You are allowed to vote for your own proposed research idea if you want. However, you can only vote for a total of five research ideas. If you have already cast your five votes and an idea you like even more is proposed, you can change your votes at any time to reflect your current preferences.

The research team will review all submitted ideas and provide a response to you and to the community. If your idea leads to an IBD Partners Study, you will have the opportunity to serve as a patient collaborator on the research team for that study.

We encourage you to prioritize the ideas that are most important to you, even if the research team determines that your idea is not a good fit for IBD Partners. We will share ideas labeled “Not a Good Fit” with researchers outside of our network when appropriate. We want to make sure all of your votes count!

Thanks for your participation in this important platform to help the IBD research community understand what research questions are important to patients. We are passionate about finding answers to your questions!

Published Studies

Year Publication Categories
2017
Symptom Clusters in Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Summary

Symptoms (pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety) are common among people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). We know people do not experience only one symptom and symptoms may occur is clusters. Symptom clusters are two or more symptoms that occur together and are related. Understanding how symptoms cluster is needed so that we can develop methods that decrease multiple symptoms in IBD. The purpose of this study was to (a) describe how symptoms cluster in IBD, and (b) to describe the relationship between demographic and clinical factors and symptom cluster membership.
In this study, we used the CCFA Partners Cohort and the symptoms of pain interference, fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression. There were 5,296 participants with an average age of 44 years, and the sample was 72% female. We discovered four symptom cluster groups. The first group was labeled “low symptom burden” (26%), and this group had symptoms of pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety. The second, and largest group (38%) was labeled “high symptom burden,” and included pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety. The third group included 22.09% of participants, was labeled “physical symptoms,” and had the symptoms of pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. The fourth group “psychological symptoms,” was the smallest group at 14.22%, and included the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Being female, having a history of smoking, currently taking corticosteroids, Crohn’s disease, and active disease state were associated with belonging to the high symptom burden group compared to the low symptom burden group. Additional research is needed to test strategies that may be effective at reducing symptoms in people with IBD.


Full Scientific Manuscript

Keywords
symptom clusters; pain; fatigue; sleep disturbance; depression; anxiety; low symptom cluster; high symptom cluster; Crohn’s disease; CD; ulcerative colitis; UC

Study Updates, Medications, Treatment
2017
Obesity Is Associated with Worse Disease Activity in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: an Internet Based Cohort Study

Summary

More than 1/3 of adults in the US are obese and the rates of obesity are increasing. However, relatively little is known about the prevalence of obesity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or the impact of obesity on IBD disease activity. In this study, we reviewed patients in the CCFA Partners database to better understand these issues. We found that approximately 30% of IBD patients were overweight and an additional 20% were obese. Patients who were overweight or obese were less likely to have their IBD in remission at baseline. We also found that patients who were obese (but not overweight patients) were more likely to have a relapse of their IBD within 6-12 months compared to normal weight patients. In summary, obesity appears to be relatively common amongst patients with IBD and may be a risk factor for worsened disease.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
comorbidity; obese; obesity; overweight; nutrition; patient reported outcomes

Study Updates, Lifestyle
2017
Patients in Remission are more Likely to Demonstrate High Patient Activation in a Large Internet-Based Cohort of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Summary

There has been a recent expansion of both medical and surgical options for the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). With these new options comes an increased recognition of the patient’s critical role in the decision making process. The concept of patient activation has also continued to develop in recent years. Patient activation is defined as a patient’s willingness to manage his or her own health care. High levels of patient activation are achieved when patients understand their role in treatment decisions and have the knowledge and skills to manage their care. We used the Patient Activation Measure (PAM, ® Insignia Health) to assess levels of patient activation among about 1,500 participants in CCFA Partners. We found that participants who completed college had higher levels of patient activation. Participants with a history of inflammatory bowel disease-related surgery also had higher levels of patient activation. Additionally, patients with higher activation were more likely to be in clinical remission in both CD and UC. This finding suggests that patient activation may be an important driver of outcomes among patients with CD and UC.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
patient activation; PAM; Patient Activation Measure; surgery; Crohn’s disease; CD; ulcerative colitis; UC; remission

Study Updates
2016
Achieving Synergy: Linking an Internet-Based Inflammatory Bowel Disease Cohort to a Community-Based Inception Cohort and Multicentered Cohort in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Summary

Cohort studies follow groups of people to understand disease. They are difficult to organize and often do not focus on patient-reported outcomes. Internet-based cohort studies provide new opportunities to study patient-reported outcomes; they are also efficient and can easily include large numbers of people. Linking an Internet-based cohort study, like CCFA-Partners, to a traditional cohort study can be beneficial to both studies and add a tremendous amount of information about a disease. Therefore, we aimed to link CCFA-Partners with the Ocean State Crohn's and Colitis Area Registry (OSCCAR) and The Sinai-Helmsley Alliance for Research Excellence (SHARE), both of which are traditional cohort studies. OSCCAR is a cohort of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Rhode Island. SHARE is a cohort across 7 academic medical centers around the United States. Both cohorts collect specimens, like blood and stool, from participants. OSCCAR enrolled people with IBD from 2008 to 2013. SHARE started enrolling people with IBD in July 2012 and enrollment is continuing. People in the cohorts who had access to the Internet were told about CCFA-Partners by the study coordinators and encouraged to enroll.

In the OSCCAR cohort, 243 of the 320 participants consented to join the CCFA-Partners cohort. However, only 44 participants completed enrollment in CCFA-Partners. OSCCAR participants who completed enrollment were better educated than those who did not complete enrollment. In the SHARE cohort, 436 participants completed enrolment in CCFA-Partners. SHARE participants who completed enrollment were more often women and white. If they had Crohn’s disease, those who completed enrollment had fewer disease symptoms and if they had ulcerative colitis, those who completed enrollment had less extensive disease. Linkage of CCFA Partners with cohorts such as OSCCAR and SHARE may be a cost-effective way to expand opportunities for research. Although linkage is possible, participant’s willingness to complete the linkage is the limiting factor. Asking participants in a traditional cohort at the time of enrollment may be a way of maximizing linkage to CCFA-Partners.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
cohort; Crohn's Disease; Crohn's; CD; population; patient-reported outcomes; symptoms; physical health; social health; psychosocial health

Research Methods, Study Updates, Health Maintenance
2014
Perceptions of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases on Biobanking in the CCFA Partners Cohort

Summary

A biobank is a collection of samples from patients (including spit, stool or blood). Biobanks are very important for understanding risk factors for developing disease or for severity of disease. We wanted to understand more about why patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) would or would not participate in a biobank. We first did a series of interviews over the phone with patients who were participating in the CCFA Partners study. This helped us to understand the important concerns about biobanks and develop a survey for use in CCFA Partners. We then sent a survey to over 800 people with IBD in CCFA Partners. We did a total of 26 phone interviews. Patients doing the interviews told us that they had concerns about how samples would be collected/stored; who would be allowed access; whether these samples would be used for other things (not only research); and whether this would affect whether they could get life insurance. Most people were not that worried about using the blood for genetic studies. People thought that that biobanks were important for research, that they might lead to a cure; that by donating they would be helping others or family members with IBD; and hoped that they might personally benefit, although most understood that they likely would not. These themes aided in the development of a survey instrument to assess perceptions of biobanking. A total of 476 people initially finished the survey. Almost 40% said that they would 'definitely yes' donate samples, 56.0% would 'probably yes' donate, 5.1% 'probably no' and 0.7% 'definitely no'. There were no factors that made someone more likely to donate (reported donation rates were not different for Crohn's disease (CD) versus ulcerative colitis (UC), remission versus active disease, or education level. People were most willing to donate spit, followed by blood and lastly stool. Knowing these important thoughts on sample donation/biobanks will help researchers to develop consents for IBD biobanks and design educational materials on biobanks for IBD A biobank is a collection of biological samples, such as saliva, blood, and stool, from individuals with a common condition such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Biobanks are important for understanding risk factors for developing disease or for severity of disease. We wanted to learn more about IBD patients’ understanding of and willingness to participate in a biobank. We first did 26 phone interviews with patient volunteers participating in the CCFA Partners study. Those interviews helped us better understand concerns related to biobanks. Patients doing the interviews told us that they had concerns about how samples would be collected/stored, who would be allowed access, whether these samples would be used for anything other than research, and whether participation in a biobank would affect life insurance eligibility. Most patients were not that worried about using blood for genetic studies. Participants thought biobanks were important for research, that they might lead to a cure, that by donating they would be helping others or family members with IBD, and hoped that they might personally benefit. These results from the phone interviews were used to develop an online survey instrument to assess perceptions of biobanking. In a larger sample, a total of 1,007 people with IBD completed the online survey. Almost 40% said they would ‘definitely’ donate samples, 56.4% would ‘probably’ donate, 3.6% ‘probably not’, and 0.6% ‘definitely not’. There were no differences in willingness to donate specimens based on disease type (Crohn’s vs. ulcerative colitis) or on disease activity (in remission vs. currently active disease). People were most willing to donate saliva specimens, followed by blood and lastly stool samples. Knowing these important attitudes and beliefs about sample donations and biobanks will help researchers develop consents and educational materials related to biobanks that will encourage wider involvement.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
biobanking; sample collection; sample storage, confidentiality; HIPAA; community; population

Research Methods, Study Updates
2014
Validation of an Internet-based Cohort of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (CCFA Partners)

Summary

CCFA Partners is an internet cohort of patients with self-reported inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. In this study, investigators obtained medical records from the doctors treating 99 participants to confirm that they do have IBD. Doctors confirmed IBD diagnosis in 97% of the participants, and confirmed disease type (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) in 97% of those with IBD. These findings support the use of self-reported IBD in CCFA Partners.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
community; population; patient-reported research

Research Methods, Study Updates
2013
Behavioral Strategies to Improve Cohort Retention within CCFA Partners

Summary

Earlier studies have shown that people who participate in surveys (such as CCFA Partners) may respond better to survey requests if these have a time limit (such as telling participants that surveys need to be done in 72 hours). This is called "scarcity." Other ways to improve survey response include messages targeting: paying it forward (that what you are doing will help people in the future), guilt, altruism (helping others), and self-serving (helping yourself). Our goal was to see if scarcity or these messages improved response rates within CCFA Partners. The scarcity group received a 'warning' email informing them that they will be sent a survey link the next day, and that they will have 72 hours to complete the survey. The control group received no warning email. We also tested the four different messages described above and a "control" message that just informed patients that it was time for their survey. We sent emails to a total of 8697 people within CCFA Partners asking them to complete their follow-up surveys. Of these, 2965 started their follow up survey. There was no difference between those in the 'scarcity group' as compared to control group. Scarcity was, however, more effective in the >50 age group. Of the messages, guilt resulted in a significantly higher response rate, while the other messages were no different than control. In summary, behavioral interventions applied to an internet-based IBD cohort have little benefit in improving response rates. Guilt had the strongest effect. The reasons that the other messages did not work may be that these interventions don't apply in an IBD population, that e-mail messages are not as effective, or that members of CCFA Partners are already very motivated to fill out surveys.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
cohort; response; retention; community; population; behavioral strategies; behavior

Research Methods, Study Updates
2013
Development of CCFA Partners Kids & Teens: an Internet-Based Cohort of Pediatric IBD

Summary

After the successful launch of CCFA Partners for adult patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the kids and teens component (CCFA Partners Kids & Teens) started in 2013. In partnership with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), children <18 years of age were asked to join the internet-based study through email invitations and promotion on social media sites. After informed consent, the children and their parents completed surveys asking questions about their disease, their medications and other patient reported outcomes (such as quality of life, fatigue, sleep, peer relations, mood, etc). In the first month, 419 children joined. The average age was 13, with about 1/2 being female and about 3/4 having Crohn's disease (CD). Common medications used by patients with CD were biologics, thiopurines (6mp or azathioprine) or mesalamine-based medications (Pentasa, Lialda, Apriso, etc). The most common medication for patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) was mesalamine-based medications. Most of the CD patients were in remission and most UC patients had mild disease. Children who had active disease had more depression and anxiety. Following this group of children over time will help us to learn a great deal about living with IBD as a child, and will allow us to follow these children into adulthood to learn even more about the disease itself, the impact of medications, and how symptoms change over time.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
kids & teens; K&T; pediatric; age; kids; teens; community; population; resource

Research Methods, Study Updates
2012
A Randomized Trial of Electronic (E-mail) Educational Prevention Messages within the CCFA Partners Cohort

Summary

It is recommended that patients with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, get an influenza, or "flu" vaccine every year. The flu vaccine is especially important for patients taking medication to suppress their immune system. This study showed that 1 in 3 IBD patients did not get a flu vaccine in 2011. Receiving an email reminder from the CCFA Partners program did not make patients more likely to get a flu vaccine.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
education; preventive interventions; prevention; intervention; community; population; outreach

Research Methods, Study Updates
2012
An Update on the CCFA Partners Internet Cohort Study

Summary

As of August 2012, nearly 12000 patients have enrolled in CCFA Partners, and about half completed at least one follow-up study, which are released every 6 months. The CCFA Partners project currently includes 9 additional studies from external investigators. Two validation studies and a DNA collection pilot project are also underway.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
cohort; education; preventive intervention; prevention; intervention; community; population; outreach; resource

Research Methods, Study Updates
2012
Development of an Internet-Based Cohort of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (CCFA Partners): Methodology and Initial Results

Summary

This manuscript describes the creation of CCFA Partners and the first 7,819 participants. Of the people who took the first surveys, 72% were women, the median age was 42 years, 63% had Crohn's disease, 34% had ulcerative colitis and 3% had other IBD. CCFA Partners is a unique resource to study patient outcomes and satisfaction, quality of care and changes in disease management over time.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
community; population; resource; outreach

Research Methods, Study Updates

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