A real world investigation on prevalence, clinical features, and therapy of inflammatory bowel disease in the city of Messina, Italy. Epidemiology and clinical features of IBD in Messina

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Alessandra Belvedere
Riccardo Scoglio
Anna Viola
Giuseppe Costantino
Aldo Sitibondo
Marco Muscianisi
Santi Inferrera
Angela Alibrandi
Walter Fries


General Practitioner, epidemiology, mesalazine, extraintestinal manifestations


Background: The absence of a national register of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) hinders effective health care planning in Italy.

Aims: to investigate prevalence of IBD in the city of Messina, Italy, based on General Practitioner (GP) records, and to establish current treatments prescribed by different health care providers.

Methods: data were extracted from GP databases with the help of disease-specific healthcare cost exemption codes combined with ICD9 codes for ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD), and prescription for mesalazine. Disease and treatment-related data were collected together with information on employment status and the current healthcare provider.

Results: Eighty-six GPs participated covering a population of 100,834 people. IBD prevalence (419/105) was 80% higher than estimates of the Regional Health Authorities. Incidence showed a seven-fold increase over the past 30 years. Only 51% of CD and 26% of UC patients were followed by a dedicated IBD centre with more frequent prescriptions of immunomodulators and biologics (p<0.001) compared to GPs.

Conclusions: Real world data show much higher figures on IBD prevalence than administrative estimates. Differences in therapeutic approaches between IBD-specialists and non-specialists may reflect poor confidence in managing immunosuppressive therapies by the latter, but may lead to inadequate therapy and cancer surveillance.



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