Being Me with IBD: young people and social interactions


Looking at how having IBD influences the friendships that young people have.


The more we can discover about whether or not young people with IBD are lonely or have good friendship connections, the better we will be able to consider how to support the young people facing difficulties

Professor Bernie Carter, Edge Hill University

What is this research looking at? 

People aged between 14 and 25 face various changes, such as exam pressures, adolescence, new jobs, going to college or university, moving away from home, and new friends. But the symptoms and treatment associated with IBD can make young people feel isolated, and make it more difficult to maintain existing friendships and make new ones. In turn, this can impact on their mental health; a significant amount of young people with IBD report feeling anxious, or having symptoms of depression. This study aims to find out how having IBD influences the friendships that young people have, and whether it affects how lonely, connected or in control they feel.

The researchers want to survey at least 100 young people on a range of factors, including friendships, loneliness, anxiety, health and self-efficacy (sense of control over their lives). They will then ask up to 40 of these young people to take part in interviews about their experience of living with IBD. They will be asked to draw a map of their friendships, and to take photographs about the positive aspects of friendship and the things about IBD that threaten their friendships. These creative approaches will allow the interviews to focus on the things that really matter to young people about living with IBD.


What do researchers think this could this mean for people with IBD? 

This study will increase understanding of how IBD affects young people’s friendships during the key transition periods of adolescence and young adulthood. This will provide insight to how they think other people, including health professionals, could better support their wellbeing. The researchers also hope the study may be able to identify which young people are likely to be at risk from experiencing loneliness or isolation from their friends. 

Who is leading the research: Professor Bernie Carter, Edge Hill University
Our Funding: £48,979
Duration: 18 months
Grant Ref: SP2017-2
Official title of the application: Being Me (with IBD): growing up and getting on with my life
Tags: child; psychology; anxiety, depression