BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The role of new psychological factors such as psychopathological patterns and defense mechanisms in the care of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been poorly investigated. We aimed to assess the psychological characteristics and defense mechanisms of IBD patients.
METHODS: This was a single-center, observational, cross-sectional study. Consecutive adult IBD patients were enrolled and stratified according to disease activity. Sociodemographic and clinical data were collected, and validated questionnaires (Symptom Checklist-90-R [SCL-90-R]) for psychological distress, Defense Mechanism Inventory (DMI) for psychological defense mechanisms, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Questionnaire (IBDQ) for quality of life (QoL) were administered.
RESULTS: Two hundred one patients were enrolled: 101 in remission and 100 with active disease. The mean score for IBDQ was below the cutoff level (156.8 ± 37.8), with a significantly greater impairment of QoL in subjects with flares (136.5 vs 177.5, P < 0.001). Lower scores were associated with female gender. No patients had psychological scores above the cutoff for normality. Statistically higher SCL-90-R scores were found in active patients for obsessive-compulsive disorder (P = 0.026), depression (P = 0.013), anxiety (P = 0.013), phobic anxiety (P = 0.002), psychoticism (P = 0.007), global severity index (GSI) (P = 0.005) and positive symptom total (PST) (P = 0.001). A significantly increased probability of higher global indexes was associated with Crohn's disease and disease flares. None of the defensive Defense Mechanism Inventory (DMI) styles resulted above the cutoff in our cohort.
CONCLUSIONS: Further data are needed to demonstrate the potential key role of psychological intervention in the therapeutic strategies utilized for IBD patients, and the identification of specific psychological patterns based on the patients profile is necessary to optimize psychological intervention.