We examined the degree to which adults with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) integrated their illness into their identity and linked illness identity to important patient-reported outcomes.
A total of 109 adults with IBD, aged 18 to 60 (Mage = 35.93; 77% women) completed questionnaires on the four illness identity dimensions (rejection, acceptance, engulfment, and enrichment), medication adherence, depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, health status, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The illness identity scores of adults with IBD were compared to existing data from adults with congenital heart disease (CHD), refractory epilepsy (RE), and multisystemic connective tissue disorders (MSDs) using multivariate analyses of covariance. In adults with IBD, associations between illness identity and patient-reported outcomes were examined through hierarchical regression analyses, controlling for sex, age, illness duration, diagnosis, self-reported flares, and co-existing illnesses.
Adults with IBD scored higher on rejection and engulfment and lower on acceptance than adults with CHD, lower on rejection but higher on engulfment than adults with RE, and higher on engulfment and enrichment but lower on rejection than adults with MSDs. Higher engulfment scores were related to more depressive symptoms, lower life satisfaction, and a poorer health status and HRQoL. In contrast, higher enrichment scores were related to more life satisfaction and a better HRQoL. Rejection and acceptance were not uniquely related to any of the outcomes.
Adults with IBD showed relatively high levels of engulfment. Substantial associations were observed between illness identity and patient-reported outcomes, with engulfment being the strongest, most consistent predictor.