Assoc Professor Rupert Leong was for the second successive year the highest contributor of research abstracts at the Australian Gastroenterology Week, that national gastroenterology conference held in Adelaide in October 2012. With over 20 abstracts, approximately half selected as oral publications, Dr Leong worked with his research team to ensure that high quality oral and poster presentations were produced.
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease are more anxious the more they know about their disease, according to new Australian research.
A study of 260 Sydney-based patients linked higher anxiety levels to significantly better disease-related knowledge as assessed by the Crohn's and Colitis Knowledge Score. Membership of the Crohn's Colitis Association was also marginally associated with higher anxiety.
But general levels of education did not impact on patients' anxiety levels, the authors found.
Other predictors of high anxiety were female sex, non-Caucasian background and outpatients attending tertiary hospital clinics versus patients under the care of an office-based gastroenterologist.
Reporting in the Journal of Crohn's and Colitis, the authors said IBD patients who scored highly for anxiety were also significantly more likely to have higher depression scores.
Co-author Rupert Leong, a gastroenterologist at Concord and Bankstown Hospitals in Sydney toldGastroenterology Update the finding was surprising.
"Often when we don't know enough about something we fear it more so we thought we'd find that knowledge was empowering and would reduce anxiety," he said.
Dr Leong said it wasn't yet clear what the clinical implications of the findings were since "we don't know whether it's the chicken or the egg; we don't know which causes what."
It was possible that knowledge of the long-term risks of IBD such as surgery or hospitalisation could trigger anxiety, but it could also be that patients with pre-existing anxiety might seek out more knowledge about the disease, he said.
Further research to follow people longitudinally would be necessary to disentangle the association between anxiety and disease knowledge, Dr Leong noted.
"All we can say for the moment is that providing more disease knowledge may not necessarily be the answer," he said.