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Life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy in people with inflammatory bowel disease

Kuenzig ME, Manuel DG, Donelle J, Benchimol EI. CMAJ. 2020; 192(45):E1394-402. Epub 2020 Nov 9. DOI:

Background — Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may be life-threatening and often reduces quality of life. We determined trends in life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy in people with and without IBD.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study of population-level health administrative, demographic and health survey data available from databases in Ontario. We matched people with a diagnosis of IBD to those without a diagnosis of IBD. We used period life tables that were generated using age- and sex-specific 5-year mortality rates to calculate life expectancy (for 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2011). We incorporated the Health Utility Index (National Population Health Study; Canadian Community Health Survey) to estimate health-adjusted life expectancy (for 1996, 2000 and 2008).

Results — Life expectancy in patients with IBD increased between 1996 and 2011 (females: from 75.5 to 78.4 yr, difference: 2.9 yr [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 4.5]; males: from 72.2 to 75.5 yr, difference: 3.2 yr [95% CI 2.1 to 4.4]). Between 1996 and 2008, health-adjusted life expectancy decreased among males by 3.9 years (95% CI 1.2 to 6.6). There was no statistically significant change in health-adjusted life expectancy among females with IBD (difference: 2.0 yr, 95% CI −1.6 to 5.7). Life expectancy and health-adjusted life expectancy were lower in people with IBD compared with those without IBD. Differences in life expectancy in people with and without IBD ranged from 6.6 to 8.1 years in females and 5.0 to 6.1 years in males, depending on the year. Differences in health-adjusted life expectancy for people with and without IBD ranged from 9.5 to 13.5 years in females and 2.6 to 6.7 years in males.

Interpretation — Whilst life expectancy has increased among people with IBD, a gap in life expectancy between those with and without IBD remains, and the effect of pain on daily functioning contributes substantially to reduced health-adjusted life expectancy, suggesting that improved pain mitigation strategies should be implemented.

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