Background: Approximately 20%‐25% of all inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) cases have an onset in childhood or adolescence. Beyond disease severity, little is known regarding determinants of health‐related quality of life (HRQOL) in this population. This study aimed to identify behavioral correlates of HRQOL and examine behavioral/emotional dysfunction (e.g., internalizing/externalizing symptoms) as the mechanism through which disease severity impacts HRQOL.
Methods: In all, 62 adolescents (mean = 15.47 years, standard deviation [SD] = 1.42) with IBD (79% Crohn's disease) and their parents were recruited from one of two pediatric IBD specialty clinics located in the Midwest or Northeast region of the United States. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Youth Self‐Report version of the Child Behavior Checklist, and the IMPACT‐III. Disease severity was calculated for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis using standardized measures.
Results: Greater disease severity, externalizing symptoms, and internalizing symptoms were all independently associated with lower HRQOL. Furthermore, internalizing symptoms partially mediated the relationship between disease activity and HRQOL, reducing the effect of disease severity on HRQOL from 22% to 9% in the mediation model. A Sobel test examining the significance of the indirect effect of disease severity on HRQOL via behavioral dysfunction was marginally nonsignificant (P =.053).
Conclusions: Nondisease‐specific variables (e.g., behavioral dysfunction) play an important role in impacting HRQOL. Behavioral dysfunction serves as the mechanism through which disease severity partially impacts HRQOL. Continued research to identify other predictors of HRQOL in pediatric IBD will greatly enhance our future ability to design interventions to improve HRQOL and maximize health outcomes. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2010;)