Treatment adaptations and outcomes of patients experiencing inflammatory bowel disease flares during the early COVID-19 pandemic: the PREPARE-IBD multicentre cohort study.
Aamir Saifuddin, Alexandra J. Kent, Shameer J. Mehta, Lucy C. Hicks, Haidee A. Gonzalez, Jonathan P. Segal, Matthew J. Brookes, Sreedhar Subramanian, Neeraj Bhala, Thomas E. Conley, Kamal V. Patel, PREPARE-IBD Collaborators, Christopher A. Lamb, Gareth J. Walker, Nicholas A. Kennedy, Shaji Sebastian
Published: 05 October 2022
Background The COVID-19 pandemic offered a unique opportunity to understand inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) management during unexpected disruption. This could help to guide practice overall.Aims To compare prescribing behaviour for IBD flares and outcomes during the early pandemic with pre-pandemic findings.
Methods We performed an observational cohort study comprising patients who contacted IBD teams for symptomatic flares between March and June 2020 in 60 National Health Service trusts in the United Kingdom. Data were compared with a pre-pandemic cohort after propensity-matching for age and physician global assessment of disease activity.
Results We included 1864 patients in each of the pandemic and pre-pandemic cohorts. The principal findings were reduced systemic corticosteroid prescription during the pandemic in Crohn's disease (prednisolone: pandemic 26.5% vs. 37.1%; p < 0.001) and ulcerative colitis (UC) (prednisolone: pandemic 33.5% vs. 40.7%, p < 0.001), with increases in poorly bioavailable oral corticosteroids in Crohn's (pandemic 15.6% vs. 6.8%; p < 0.001) and UC (pandemic 11.8% vs. 5.2%; p < 0.001). Ustekinumab (Crohn's and UC) and vedolizumab (UC) treatment also significantly increased. Three-month steroid-free remission in each period was similar in Crohn's (pandemic 28.4% vs. 32.1%; p = 0.17) and UC (pandemic 36.4% vs. 40.2%; p = 0.095). Patients experiencing a flare and suspected COVID-19 were more likely to have moderately-to-severely active disease at 3 months than those with a flare alone.
Conclusions Despite treatment adaptations during the pandemic, steroid-free outcomes were comparable with pre-pandemic levels, although concurrent flare and suspected COVID-19 caused worse outcomes. These findings have implications for IBD management during future pandemics and for standard practice.