Objective Chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can impact negatively on education and social development. Examining the impact of IBD on school/college attendance for children and young people (CYP) is vital to provide targeted support to patients, families and schools.
Methods We performed a cross-sectional survey to determine the school/college attendance rates, the reasons for absence related to IBD and facilitators or barriers to school/college attendance. In a subset of patients followed up locally, we performed a detailed review of hospital attendance data to assess healthcare burden.
Results Two hundred and thirty-one questionnaires were given to CYP with IBD aged 5–17 years. Response rate was 74% (final sample 169). The median school/college attendance rate was 92.5%, significantly lower than all children in England (95.2%). 39.6% of children with IBD were persistently absent, defined nationally as missing 10% or more of school. Only five children (3%) had a 100% attendance record. Increasing age and use of monoclonal therapy were predictors of poor school attendance. Concerns about feeling unwell at school/college, access to toilets, keeping up with work and teachers’ understanding of IBD are the main issues for CYP with IBD. There was a significant negative correlation between number of days in hospital and school attendance.
Conclusion IBD has a significant impact on school/college attendance, with hospital attendance, disease burden and school difficulties being major factors. Employing strategies to minimise healthcare burden and developing a partnership between health and education to support children with IBD will serve to facilitate school/college attendance.
- inflammatory bowel disease
- chronic illness
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