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
2018
Paternal Disease Activity Is Associated With Difficulty in Conception Among Men With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Summary

IBD commonly affects men and women during their reproductive ages. Because of this, researchers are interested in knowing how the disease affects fertility and pregnancy. Much research on the impact of IBD on fertility and pregnancy has focused on women, but for this study, researchers focused on men. They wanted to know how men’s IBD and their use of IBD medication affect reproductive outcomes. The study results showed that men who received a diagnosis of IBD before trying to conceive were more likely to have difficulty conceiving than men who developed IBD after conceiving. However, these fi ndings were noted only in those with recently active disease within the past 6 months. Men with IBD who were in long-term remission were similar to the rates prior to development of IBD. Exposure to any of the medications for treating IBD was not associated with congenital anomalies, low birth weight or preterm births.


Full Scientific Manuscript

Keywords
paternal; disease activity; men; fertility; pregnancy

Lifestyle, Health Maintenance
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
2016
Role of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Exacerbations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Summary

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, medications such as Advil, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.) may cause GI inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD patients are often told to avoid these medications. We looked at patients in CCFA Partners in who were in remission (with few to no symptoms) and asked about regular NSAID use. We then looked at whether they flared 6 months later. A total of 791 patients were included, of these, 40.6% reported ever using NSAIDS at baseline. Patients with Crohn's disease (CD) who regularly used NSAIDS (at least 5 times/monthly) had a 65% increased risk of later flare. No effect of regular NSAID use was seen for ulcerative colitis (UC). Those with CD who used acetaminophen (Tylenol) also had a 72% increased risk of later flare. Lower doses of NSAIDs had no association with flare. Therefore, regular NSAID use or acetaminophen use may increase the risk of flare in CD, but not UC. This may be related to effects of the medications. It is also possible that those people with IBD who require pain medications at baseline may not be in as full a remission, which may increase the risk of later flare.


Full Scientific Manuscript

Keywords
active disease; nonsteroid; NSAID; anti-inflammatory; drugs; flare; risk; prevention

Medications
2015
Avoidance of Fiber is Associated with Greater Risk of Crohn's Disease Flare in a 6 Month Period

Summary

Dietary fiber is found in plant foods such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Past studies found that dietary fiber can affect bacterial colonies in your stomach and intestines. However, there is limited information about how dietary fiber affects inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms. In this study, we looked at fiber consumption and whether it was associated with flares in adults with IBD. A total of 1619 participants in CCFA Partners completed a diet survey and a follow-up survey 6 months later. We found that participants with Crohn’s disease who reported eating the most fiber were less likely to have a flare within a 6 month period. In addition, participants with Crohn’s disease who told us they did not avoid high fiber foods were about 40% less likely to have a flare than participants who told us they avoid high fiber foods. Interestingly, we did not find an association between fiber consumption and disease flares among participants with ulcerative colitis. In summary, eating foods high in fiber may help reduce risk of flares among patients with Crohn’s disease.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
active disease; fiber; flare; prevention; risk; Crohn’s disease; Crohn’s; CD

Diet, Alternative Therapies, Lifestyle, Health Maintenance
2015
Exercise Decreases Risk of Future Active Disease in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Remission

Summary

Little is known about how exercise impacts disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This study explored the relationship between exercise level and disease activity in a large group of patients with IBD in remission. A total of 1,857 patients from the CCFA Partners cohort participated by answering online questions about their exercise level and disease activity at the beginning of the study (in remission) and then again after six-months. We found that participants with Crohn’s disease who reported higher levels of exercise at the beginning of the study were significantly less likely to report active disease six-months later. We also found this association among participants with ulcerative colitis (UC) and indeterminate colitis (IC), but the results were not significant. Results of this study suggest that for patients with Crohn’s disease (and possibly for patients with UC and IC) who are in remission, higher levels of exercise may reduce the risk of developing active disease in the short-term.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
active disease; flare; prevention; risk

Exercise, Lifestyle, Alternative Therapies, 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
Prevalence of a Gluten-free Diet and Improvement of Clinical Symptoms in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Summary

Patients with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where eating gluten can damage the small intestine) benefit from a gluten free diet (GFD). Few data are available to tell us if patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) may also benefit from this diet. Individuals with GI symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue and nausea can have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, for which a GFD can be beneficial. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity can also co-exist with IBD. We therefore asked patients enrolled in CCFA Partners whether they have ever tried a gluten free diet (GFD), whether they followed this diet closely, and whether it helped with any symptoms. A total of 1647 people took the survey on GFD. A total of 314 (19.1%) reported that they had ever tried a GFD and 135 (8.1%) were currently following the diet. Overall, 206/314 (65.6%) trying a GFD reported improvement in any GI symptom while on this diet. Over a 1/3 of people (38.3%) felt that they experienced fewer or less severe flares while on the diet. Improvements in clinical symptoms were reported for bloating (56.5%), diarrhea (42.6%), abdominal pain (41.5%), fatigue (27.5%), and nausea (26.3%) while on a GFD. Fatigue was significantly improved with excellent adherence to the diet. Because many patients had improved symptoms on the GFD, it is possible that patients with IBD could suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Fewer people who felt better on a GFD were taking biologics medications, suggesting that flare symptoms in those with more severe disease may not respond to a GFD. Future studies are needed to understand the benefits of this diet in IBD patients, and the mechanism of improvement with this dietary intervention.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
Gluten Free Diet; GFD; flare; active disease; risk; prevention

Diet, Lifestyle, Alternative Therapies, Health Maintenance
2013
Sleep Disturbance and Risk of Active Disease in Patients With Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

Summary

People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, tend to have poor quality of sleep. In this study of over 3000 people with IBD, those with more disease activity, depression, female gender, a history of smoking, or those currently taking corticosteroids or narcotics were more likely to have sleep disturbance. Of people with Crohn's disease who were in remission at the beginning of the study, those with sleep disturbance were twice as likely to have a flare in 6 months. No effect was seen for ulcerative colitis. These results suggest that sleep is important for maintaining remission in IBD.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
active disease; sleep; flare; risk; prevention; Crohn’s Disease; Crohn's; CD; Ulcerative Colitis; UC; colitis

Lifestyle
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
2013
Symptom Worsening During Pregnancy and Lactation is Associated with Age, Body Mass Index, and Disease Phenotype in Women with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Summary

In a study of over 300 women with inflammatory bowel disease who reported at least one pregnancy after their IBD diagnosis, more than half reported that their disease symptoms improved during pregnancy, while about 20% said that their disease symptoms were worse during pregnancy. Younger women and women with ulcerative colitis were more likely to have increased disease symptoms during pregnancy. Of the nearly 200 women who breastfed, 14% said that symptoms improved, 13% said symptoms got worse and about 40% said their symptoms did not change during breastfeeding Those with worsening symptoms during breastfeeding were younger and had a lower body mass index than those whose symptoms remained the same or improved.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
community; population; pregnancy; hormone; hormonal; hormone influence; hormone fluctuation; lactation; age; BMI Disease phenotype; BMI; phenotype; flare; active disease; risk; women; women’s health; female; feminine; symptom

Lifestyle
2013
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptom Severity is Influenced by Hormone Fluctuations in Many Women with IBD

Summary

In a study of over 1200 females with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, more than half reported worsening disease symptoms during menstrual periods. Women who reported worse symptoms during menses were younger than those who did not. About 10% said that hormonal contraceptive agents improved their symptoms, but about 8% said that hormonal contraceptive agents made their symptoms worse. Among women who had reached menopause, an older age of IBD onset was associated with worse symptoms after menopause. This study shows that symptom severity is influenced during times of hormone changes in many women with IBD and that duration of IBD may play a role in hormonally mediated symptoms.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
hormone; hormonal; women; women’s health; female; feminine; hormone influence; hormone fluctuation; ovulation; menarche; menses; menopause; age; active disease flare; risk; community; population

Lifestyle
2012
Sexual Interest and Satisfaction in an Internet Cohort of Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Summary

In a survey of over 2500 patients with inflammatory bowel disease, 80% said that their disease symptoms affected their sexual interest and satisfaction. In general, women, patients with disease around their rectum and patients with more active disease had less sexual interest and satisfaction. Half of patients with ostomies said that their ostomy affected their sexual satisfaction.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
sexual health; sexual functioning; comorbidity; community; population

Lifestyle, Mental Health
2012
Dietary Patterns and Self-Reported Associations of Diet with Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Summary

People with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, often say that specific foods make their symptoms better or worse, but there is no good scientific evidence to support a specific diet. In this study, nearly 7,000 patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative completed a survey about the their diet and IBD symptoms. Yogurt and rice were most often reported to improve symptoms. Vegetables, fruit, spicy foods, fried foods, milk, red meat, soda, popcorn, dairy, alcohol, high fiber foods, fatty foods, seeds, coffee and beans were most frequently reported to worsen symptoms. In general, patients with ulcerative colitis ate more fruit, vegetables, beans and popcorn than patients with Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease patients with an ostomy tended to eat more cheese, sweetened beverages, milk, pizza and processed meats than Crohn's disease without an ostomy.


Full Published Manuscript

Keywords
active disease; flare; prevention; risk

Diet, Lifestyle, Alternative Therapies
2011
Status of Prevention in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases within the CCFA Partners Cohort

Summary

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, may be more likely to develop weak bones, infections like influenza and tuberculosis and certain cancers of the skin, cervix and colon, depending on the type of medications they use. Fortunately, there are simple activities that can prevent these from occurring. In a survey of over 7000 patients with IBD, only about half had a bone density scan or took calcium or vitamin D supplements to promote bone health. Only 40% reported having a skin exam and 16% reported always wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Less than two thirds had an influenza (flu) vaccine. These results show that not enough patients are doing simple activities to prevent weak bones, infections and cancers that may be related to IBD.


Full Scientific Abstract

Keywords
preventive; care; active disease; flare; prevention; risk; educational interventions; intervention; education; outreach; community; population

Research Methods, Health Maintenance

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