In November 2022, we launched our Cut the Crap campaign because we know delayed diagnosis can lead to worse health outcomes for people with Crohn’s and Colitis. Those who experience the longest delays are twice as likely to need surgery as people who are diagnosed quickly.
Delayed diagnosis can be caused at a number of stages of a person’s journey, but evidence from the IBD UK Report suggests there are three key point when it could happen. The first of these is right at the start; namely when patients notice symptoms but delay speaking to their GP. The second sticking point can be a delay in getting a referral to a specialist. Finally, patients can experience long waits for the right tests and confirmation of a diagnosis.
Recent research conducted by University of Nottingham shows that nearly a third of people living with Crohn’s and Colitis are diagnosed before the age of 34. However, we know people aged 18-34 are less likely than any other age group to know about the conditions and which symptoms to look out for. Not only that, they’re also the most likely age group to put off going to the GP, or to seek medical help for their symptoms. That might be because they feel embarrassed, scared, or because they just don’t have the right words to describe what’s going on.
That’s why Cut the Crap was born: a campaign aimed at young adults to raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis symptoms, and to promote access to our online symptom checker. It’s a tool that takes 30 seconds to complete and gives people advice on what to do next and which symptoms to discuss with their GP.
Getting on the big screen
Within the first year we helped over 120,000 people check their symptoms, but we knew we could go further to reach more young people. Our research has told us that not only do 18-34 year-olds put off seeking support for their symptoms, they are also the most-likely group to “self-diagnose” and follow unverified online advice rather than going to a GP.
So - time to “Cut the Crap” and drive home the message at the heart of this campaign. We decided to make a hard-hitting but relatable new advert, and we took it to the places where members of our target audience were most likely to see it. This included 517 cinemas across the UK, where the ad debuted in November 2023 – a year after Cut the Crap first launched. It also appeared on Channel 4 and Sky streaming services, as well as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram.
It was a proud moment for all of us who have worked on this campaign, and we know it’s making a difference: we’ve now hit over 200,000 users of the symptom checker. That means over eight times the number of people who are diagnosed with Crohn’s and Colitis every year in the UK have checked their symptoms and received guidance on the next steps they can take.
You’ll be able to see our advert on Channel 4 streaming services until the end of March, where we’re also now emphasising how serious these conditions can be if left undiagnosed and untreated. You can help us spread the message by sharing our campaign resources where possible.
Reaching so many people is certainly something to celebrate, but it’s not the full picture. Much more needs to be done across UK health services to improve the time it takes to receive a Crohn’s or Colitis diagnosis and get people on the right treatment earlier.
We’re working with other Lower GI charities and health care professionals to implement a nationally agreed pathway for the diagnosis of people presenting with lower GI symptoms, making it easier for people to get diagnosed.
So, watch this space for more on how we’re tackling delayed diagnosis – the story doesn’t end here…