Background: As traditional methods have become increasingly difficult, the Internet offers a mechanism for conducting survey research quickly and efficiently. However, the validity of this research depends on the ability of respondents to accurately report health status. We used a large Internet-based inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) cohort to validate self-reported IBD against physician reports.
Methods: Between June 22, 2012, and April 01, 2013, all participants of CCFA Partners (n = 6681) were invited to participate, and 450 were selected by random stratified sampling. We sent physicians a survey to confirm IBD diagnosis and characteristics. We used descriptive statistics to compare data.
Results: A total of 4423 participants (66%) indicated interest. Of 450 selected, 261 (58%) consented, and physician reports were obtained for 184 (71%). Physicians confirmed IBD status in 178 (97%) and type in 171 (97% of confirmed). The matching between patient and physician reports for Crohn's disease (CD) was 82% for disease location, 89% for the presence of perianal disease, and 46% for disease behavior. For ulcerative colitis (UC), disease location matched 54% of the time. Physician reports confirmed the status of ever having bowel surgery for 97% of CD and 94% for UC and confirmed current pouch or ostomy in 84% of CD and 81% of UC.
Conclusions: Self-reported IBD in CCFA Partners is highly accurate, and participants are willing to release medical records for research. Self-reported phenotypic characteristics were less valid. The validity of IBD diagnoses among the participants of CCFA Partners supports the use of this cohort for patient-centered outcome research.