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Development of an internet-based cohort of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (CCFA Partners): Methodology and initial results

Long, Millie D. MD, MPH1,2*; Kappelman, Michael D. MD, MPH2,3; Martin, Christopher F. MSPH1,2; Lewis, James D. MD, MSCE4; Mayer, Lloyd MD5; Kinneer, Patricia M. MA2; Sandler, Robert S. MD, MPH1,2

doi: 10.1002/ibd.22895
Original Article: Original Clinical Articles

Background: The widespread use of the Internet allows for unique research opportunities. We aimed to develop and follow an Internet-based cohort (e-cohort) of patients with self-reported inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) over time.

Methods: We established an e-cohort of adults with IBD (CCFA Partners) by recruiting through Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) email rosters, CCFA Website promotion, social media, and other publicity mechanisms. The baseline survey included modules on disease course and activity, diet and exercise, and patient-reported outcomes (PROs). Baseline characteristics of the cohort are summarized using descriptive statistics.

Results: A total of 7819 adults with IBD joined CCFA Partners through August, 2011. The median age was 42 years (interquartile range [IQR] 30–54), 5074 (72.3%) were female. A total of 4933 (63.1%) had Crohn's disease (CD), 2675 (34.2%) had ulcerative colitis (UC), and 211 (2.7%) had IBD unspecified. For CD, the mean short CD Activity Index (CDAI) was 151.9 (standard deviation [SD] 106.4), with 2274 (59.4%) in remission. For UC, the mean simple clinical colitis activity index (SCCAI) was 3.6 (SD 2.8), with 937 (42.9%) in remission. The mean short IBD questionnaire (SIBDQ) score was 48.7 (SD 11.8). SIBDQ was inversely correlated with disease activity (P < 0.01). The mean Morisky medication adherence score (MMAS) was 5.7 (SD 2.0). MMAS scores were inversely correlated with disease activity (P < 0.01).

Conclusions: CCFA Partners is a novel e-cohort. Enrollment is ongoing, with surveys twice yearly. CCFA Partners represents a unique resource to study PROs and changes in disease management over time. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2012;)

1 University of North Carolina, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

2 Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

3 University of North Carolina, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

4 University of Pennsylvania, Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

5 Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY

* CB #7080, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article.


Received 23 November 2011; Accepted 3 January 2012

Published online 27 January 2012 in Wiley Online Library (

Grant sponsor: Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America; Grant sponsor: National Institutes of Health; Grant sponsor: P30 Dk34987.

This article was published online on January 27, 2012. Some errors were subsequently identified. This note is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected August 6, 2012.

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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