Developing a programme to support young people (aged 13-18) with IBD to follow their treatment plans



Through this study, we will develop a programme that equips young people with IBD with the skills, motivation and confidence they need to adhere to their recommended treatment plan now and as they transition into adulthood

Dr Gemma Heath 
Aston University


What is this research looking at?  

Young people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) do not always follow the treatment plans recommended by their health-care team. This can mean that their condition is not well-controlled, and that they may have more unplanned hospital stays and poorer health outcomes.   

Young people are likely to be told to take medicines as prescribed, change their diet, monitor symptoms and go to appointments with their health professionals. This comes at an already demanding time of life. And every young person will have their own mixture of barriers, which affects how they follow treatment plans.  

These can include:  

  • Practical barriers -  like forgetting to take medicine   
  • Perceptual barriers – like feeling well so the medicine is not needed.   

Researchers will develop and test a programme that aims to build lifelong skills to enable young people to become engaged in managing their condition. Adolescence is when adult health behaviours are established and this provides an opportunity to influence future behaviour. 

There is little evidence to suggest which approaches are most effective, so the researchers will talk to young people with IBD, their parents and health professionals to help them develop the programme. They will then test the programme with a small group of adolescents aged 13-18.  

Researchers will explore any barriers found during testing and suggest ways to improve the programme.  The results will be used as a foundation to apply for further funding to gather more robust evidence by testing the programme in a larger randomised controlled trial.    

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

The research team hopes that the programme will support young people with IBD to become competent and confident managers of their condition. It aims to provide them with the skills, motivation and confidence to follow their recommended treatment plans and become empowered lifelong managers of their condition.  

Who is leading the research:  Dr Gemma Heath, Aston University/ Birmingham Children’s Hospital  
Award amount: £33,790 
Duration: 36 months  
Official title of the application: Improving treatment adherence in young people with IBD.