Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are life-long diseases most often diagnosed in teenagers and young adults. Life-long treatment is needed. IBD should not be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In IBD there is inflammation in the gut; in IBS there is not. Symptoms of IBD include diarrhoea, incontinence, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, malnutrition, perianal disease and severe fatigue. 30% of people with IBD also experience disease outside the gut including arthritis, eye, skin and liver diseases and up to half have clinically significant mental health problems including anxiety, depression and PTSD. The cause of IBD is unknown. But its prevalence is increasing internationally. By 2030, nearly 300000 Australians (2%) will have IBD. Unlike other diseases, IBD is not something we talk about; because many people with IBD are embarrassed and ashamed of their disease.
The IBD Research Group was established in 2011 with the aim to promote and expand evidence-based clinical practice in IBD. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the IBD Research Group studies different aspects of care including drugs, patient experience, clinical communication. Our group established Australia’s only public therapeutic drug monitoring service.
Our research group is a member of National collaborative research organisations including:
Australian and New Zealand IBD (ANZIBD) Consortium.
Triple I Academic group of Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE).
Australian IBD Faculty within Gastroenterological Society of Australia .
We participate in collaborative research group studies nationally and internationally, as well as multiple pharmaceutically sponsored clinical trials.
Our main research areas include:
1. Perianal Crohn’s Disease
Our group was awarded the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) 2020 Efficient Use of Existing Medicines Grant Opportunity as part of the Preventative and Public Health Research Initiative. The PROACTIVE study aims to improve the care of patients with perianal fistulising Crohn's disease, a debilitating phenotype of IBD with significant morbidity and reduced quality of life.
2. Digital Health and Digital Efficiencies in Care
Our group, in collaboration with other sites, was involved in the inception and creation of Crohn’s Colitis Care, a new custom-built, cloud-based eHealth platform for IBD. Visit our site for more information. We’ve also worked on several decision aids including a decision aid for the treatment of ulcerative colitis (myAID) and an aid to support pregnant and preconception women with IBD in managing their IBD care while pregnant or planning pregnancy and promote shared decision making (PIDA).
3. Communication in IBD
Despite the available evidence indicating the effect of clinical communication on biological and functional health outcomes, there has been no sustained program of research investigating clinical communication in IBD management. We’ve developed a program of research in this area including two ongoing projects investigating the effect of clinical communication on patient outcomes and correlations between clinical communication and transition outcomes in adolescents with IBD.
Other areas of interest revolve around:
Designing patient and physician support tools to facilitate patient empowerment in IBD care.
Investigating the genetics of IBD.
Investigating the role of the microbiome in IBD.
Improving care and clinical outcomes of patients with IBD who are pregnant.
Improving care and clinical outcomes for paediatric patients ‘transitioning’ to adult care centres.
1. Digital Health and Digital Efficiencies in Care (CCCare). Using our software and the data collected to drive improvements (and value) in how IBD care is delivered and insights into treatment effectiveness and disease pathogenesis There are endless opportunities. For more information, visit CCCare https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33161791/
2. Perianal Crohn’s Disease
3. Communication and Decision Aids
World J Gastroenterol 2022 June 21; 28(23): 2527-2635: doi: 10.3748/wjg.v28.i23.2597
In 2021, we published 12 articles; 25+ Conference presentations/abstracts
Current Students: 2 Masters students, 4 PhD students
Successful grants in 2021: 9
2021: SWS Clinical Campuses, UNSW Medicine Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision (Prof S Connor)
2021: Ingham Institute Lady (Mary) Fairfax Distinguished Researcher Award (Connor)
2019: Australia Day Award for Contribution to Health, Liverpool Council (Connor)