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Health care utilization in elderly onset inflammatory bowel disease: a population-based study

Nguyen G, Sheng L, Benchimol EI. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015; 21(4):777-82. Epub 2015 Mar 3.

Background — There is an increasing burden of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) among the elderly. The researchers sought to characterize health care utilization of elderly onset IBD.

Methods — The researchers identified incident IBD cases in Ontario, Canada between 1999 and 2008 and categorized subjects by age at diagnosis as young (18-40 yr), middle-age (41-64 yr), and elderly (≥65 yr). They then compared IBD-specific health utilization indicators, including outpatient visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations.

Results — The elderly accounted for 8.1% (N = 725) and 11.6% (N = 1749) of incident Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), respectively. They were less likely than young adults to have any IBD-specific gastroenterology visit in the first year after diagnosis (CD, 63% versus 71%, P < 0.001; UC, 63% versus 69%, P < 0.001). They less frequently received continuous gastroenterology care (CD, 36% versus 46%, P < 0.001; UC, 33% versus 43%, P < 0.001). Elderly patients with IBD were less likely than young adults to require an IBD-specific emergency department visit in the first year (CD, 8.8% versus 18.5%, P < 0.001; UC, 7.8% versus 11.6%, P < 0.001). Similarly, elderly patients with CD exhibited lower hospitalization rates (incidence rate ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.59-0.65). Hospitalization rates were modestly higher among those elderly patients with UC compared with young adults during the first year (incidence rate ratio, 1.14; 95% confidence interval: 1.02-1.28), but this association reversed thereafter (incidence rate ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval: 0.57-0.71).

Conclusions — Elderly patients with IBD exhibited lower IBD-specific health care utilization than young adults, which may reflect a multitude of factors including more benign disease and differential health care access.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal disorders Geriatrics and aging Health care utilization