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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Medication beliefs among patients with inflammatory bowel disease who report low quality of life: a qualitative study

Nicola J Hall1*, Gregory P Rubin1, APS Hungin2 and Audrey Dougall3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health, Natural and Social Sciences, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, UK

2 Centre for Integrated Health Care Research, Durham University, Stockton on Tees, UK

3 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, Stockton on Tees, UK

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BMC Gastroenterology 2007, 7:20  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-7-20

Published: 8 June 2007



Non-adherence to drug therapy is common in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Patients' beliefs about treatment have an important influence on adherence. An in-depth understanding of this area is, therefore, important for patient-centred care. The aim of the study was to assess patients' perspectives and beliefs about their medication and to determine how this relates to medicine taking and other related health behaviour as part of a larger qualitative study on health care related behaviour in patients with IBD.


Individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups. An iterative approach following principles of grounded theory was applied to data collection and analysis.


Main emerging themes were: balance of perceived necessity versus concerns, perceived impact of symptoms and willingness to self-manage medication. There was a clear distinction made between steroids and other preparations. Concerns included the fear of both short and long-term side-effects (mainly steroids), uncertainties about drug interactions and development of long-term immunity. Adapting to and accepting medication use was linked to acceptance of IBD.


A concordant approach including flexible and pro-active support as well as accurate information is important in assisting patients with IBD to self-manage their medication effectively. Health professionals should be aware that attitudes to medicine taking and other related behaviours may be medicine specific and change over time.