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ICN Research Explained: Pediatric GI Health Care Professionals’ Perceptions of and Engagement with Psychosocial Providers in Pediatric IBD Care

Why was this study done?

Pediatric patients with IBD have a higher rate of psychosocial needs than young people without IBD, including anxiety, low mood, fatigue, and body image complexities. Multidisciplinary care, including psychosocial providers (psychologists, social workers), is considered the standard of care in pediatric IBD. However, there is limited research exploring how medical providers (e.g., physicians) think about and engage with psychosocial providers in pediatric IBD.

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ICN Research Explained: Practice Survey - Depression Screening in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Why was this study done?

Depression is the number one health problem in adolescents, and by age 18, 20% of adolescents will experience a major depressive episode. For kids and teens with inflammatory bowel disease, the risk for depression is high. One in three adolescents struggle with some form of depression. Depression is linked to (associated with) difficulty adhering to medication, worsened disease activity, and higher healthcare costs. Yet, little is known about depression screening practices in pediatric IBD care. An improved understanding of current screening practices is an important step toward promoting mental health in pediatrics.

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Finding my way to mindfulness meditation practices that resonated

Diagnosed at age 15 with severe IBD, my daughter’s journey with illness was bumpy, but manageable, until the summer after her sophomore year of college. Her colonic health had been on a slow decline for some months, and that’s when cDiff took advantage. Though her health worsened over the summer, she was able to convince her doctor to let her go back to college in the fall. There, cDiff continued to recur and stopped responding to all medications. An oral fecal microbiota transplant finally shut down the cDiff but sent her into her worst flare ever. She was hospitalized on the opposite coast from where we live. I flew out to be with her, thinking it would be for a few days and ended up staying a couple of months until she was stable enough to get her home to California, where she was admitted to a hospital there. Of all the challenges we’ve faced over the course of her illness (she’s now 27), the time we spent on the East Coast, far from all our supports was the most difficult. She was on an adult ward there, and they didn’t seem to understand why I insisted on staying with her.

It was the first time my stoic child became depressed. And I found myself overwhelmed, afraid, and alone.

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You have just met someone who also has IBD - you are not alone.

I remember feeling so alone in my illness. I was diagnosed with at age six and I grew up alone with this disease I was told I had and would never go away. I was surrounded by so many people but felt so peculiar because I was the only one with this disease. I always wondered to myself, “why doesn’t anyone else have this thing called Crohn’s disease?” and “why am I the only one with it?

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IGNITE - A Parent's Perspective on Healthcare Learning Networks

Ignite Talks are a true highlight of ImproveCareNow Community Conferences - whether we are meeting in-person or live online. This spring, at our Live Online Community Conference, we were honored to listen as Jane Weyer shared her personal story as parent to a child diagnosed not only with Crohn's disease, but also Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) - an autoimmune liver condition affecting around 30,000 people in the US. Jane, and her daughter Nicole, didn't have the information or resources they wanted at the beginning of their PSC journey. So, they rolled up their sleeves, leaned on the strong foundation of connection and improvement built by the ImproveCareNow Learning Health Network, and together with other visionaries founded A-LiNK (the Autoimmune Liver Disease Network for Kids). A-LiNK Connections, the caregiver/patient community, was established to collaborate, advocate, support, and educate families on this journey with them.

Be inspired by Jane's #IgniteTalk 🔥

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IGNITE - Community and having a relationship with patients is important

Imagine being diagnosed with a chronic illness in the midst of a global pandemic and lockdown. How does a young person develop resilience and thrive when facing incredible health challenges in isolation? How can they connect with people who understand, who can normalize IBD and offer support and validation about experiences that are still very stigmatized? Not only was Hannah able to develop resilience (on her own terms) and thrive (in the face of difficult surgeries and complications), she also found a community in ICN and the PAC and has grown into an incredible patient advocate. In her #ICNCC23S Ignite Talk, Hannah shares the story of her diagnosis, what resilience and community mean to her, how asking questions and getting to know patients can open the doors to more inclusive and whole-body care.

Be inspired by Hannah's #IgniteTalk 🔥

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Investing in clinicians' skills in applying the Model for Improvement

The ImproveCareNow Network has been focused on improving outcomes for young patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (also called Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD) for more than a decade. The success of our shared work is rooted firmly in our foundation of data and healthcare quality improvement (QI) science. In 2022, we piloted a new Introduction to QI (IQI) training course for clinicians at participating ICN centers who were interested in expanding their QI knowledge and practice.

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ICN Research Explained: the COMBINE Trial

What was the key study finding?

The COMBINE study compared the treatment of pediatric Crohn’s disease with an anti-TNF biologic alone versus an anti-TNF biologic combined with low-dose oral methotrexate.  The study found that adding methotrexate reduced the risk of treatment failure for adalimumab, but not for infliximab. Methotrexate did lead to more side effects, but these were mostly mild and rarely led to the stopping of treatment.

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My new irritable friend

In November of 2021, I was diagnosed with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. I had an uninvited, new irritable friend that became a part of my daily life, just like my IBD. Leading up to being diagnosed, I had been experiencing gut-wrenching belly pain, nausea with pain, and fluctuations between painful constipation and uncontrollable and very urgent soft stools. I knew something wasn’t right. I had experienced fluctuations of stool type from my IBD, but this time it was different. 

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