- Thomas Joshua Pasvol1,
- Laura Horsfall1,
- Stuart Bloom2,
- Anthony Walter Segal3,
- Caroline Sabin4,5,
- Nigel Field4,6,
- Greta Rait1,5
Revised 20 May 2020
Accepted 05 June 2020
Objectives We describe temporal trends in the recorded incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in UK primary care patients between 2000 and 2018.
Design A cohort study.
Setting The IQVIA Medical Research data (IMRD) primary care database.
Participants All individuals registered with general practices contributing to IMRD during the period 01 January 2000–31 December 2018.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the recorded diagnosis of IBD.
Results 11 325 025 individuals were included and 65 700 IBD cases were identified, of which 22 560 were incident diagnoses made during the study period. Overall, there were 8077 incident cases of Crohn’s disease (CD) and 12 369 incident cases of ulcerative colitis (UC). Crude incidence estimates of ‘IBD overall’, CD and UC were 28.6 (28.2 to 28.9), 10.2 (10.0 to 10.5) and 15.7 (15.4 to 15.9)/100 000 person years, respectively. No change in IBD incidence was observed for adults aged 17–40 years and children aged 0–9 years. However, for adults aged over 40 years, incidence fell from 37.8 (34.5 to 41.4) to 23.6 (21.3 to 26.0)/100 000 person years (average decrease 2.3% (1.9 to 2.7)/year (p<0.0001)). In adolescents aged 10–16 years, incidence rose from 13.1 (8.4 to 19.5) to 25.4 (19.5 to 32.4)/100 000 person years (average increase 3.0% (1.7 to 4.3)/year (p<0.0001)). Point prevalence estimates on 31 December 2018 for IBD overall, CD and UC were 725, 276 and 397 per 100 000 people, respectively.
Conclusions This is one of the largest studies ever undertaken to investigate trends in IBD epidemiology. Although we observed stable or falling incidence of IBD in adults, our results are consistent with some of the highest reported global incidence and prevalence rates for IBD, with a 94% rise in incidence in adolescents. Further investigation is required to understand the aetiological drivers.
This is one of the largest observational studies undertaken to investigate trends in IBD epidemiology. Although incidence of IBD remained relatively stable for those aged 17–40 years and those aged 0–9 years, we observed a 38% fall in incidence for those aged over 40 years and a 94% rise in incidence in the adolescent population. The most recent incidence estimates are in line with some of the highest reported rates of paediatric IBD internationally.25–27
Study strengths include the large sample size and the prospective collection of healthcare records representative of ‘real-life’ clinical practice. Unlike previous incidence/prevalence studies that have relied on external data sources to estimate denominator population characteristics, we were able to extract demographics and person-time follow-up for all individuals in our cohort, including those who did not develop IBD. Additionally, IMRD has been shown to be broadly representative of the UK in terms of age, sex, mortality rates and prevalence of numerous comorbidities,15 allowing us to draw inferences from our data and relate this to the UK population as a whole. Not only has the diagnosis of IBD been validated in a similar GP database,12 but we have demonstrated that the majority of individuals coded for IBD in IMRD have been prescribed drugs commonly used to treat IBD and presented with symptoms in keeping with IBD. This would support the argument that IMRD represents an important and useful resource for further epidemiological studies of IBD.
Limitations arise when conducting GP database research, particularly as the primary use of the software that contributes to IMRD is for patient management purposes rather than medical research. Thus, data can be incomplete and will often only reflect those events that are deemed to be relevant to the patient’s care. Given that we were also reasonably strict with our case definition, this may have resulted in underascertainment of cases. Although we find reason to be confident in the validity of the data, we were not able to confirm our cases by evidence of radiological, endoscopic or histological findings. Therefore, it is possible that some individuals were misclassified. There was a small risk of duplication of medical records. This could occur if a patient deregistered with one practice contributing to IMRD then subsequently registered with another IMRD practice during the observation period. This is likely to be the case for a very small number of individuals as IMRD only covered 5%–6% of UK GP during the study period. Although the total number of individuals contributing may be a slight overestimate, this would have no effect on incidence or prevalence rates. This is for two reasons: (1) duplicated records would cover different time periods during the study without overlap; (2) we took steps to ensure that prevalent cases of IBD newly transferring to practices were not counted as incident cases18 Therefore, incident cases were not counted twice.
Pasvol TJ, Horsfall L, Bloom S, et alConclusion
Although we observed a stable or falling incidence of IBD in adults over an 18-year period, our results are consistent with some of the highest reported global incidence and prevalence rates for IBD, with a 94% rise in incidence in adolescents. These findings are concerning and suggest that detailed prospective studies are required to understand the aetiological drivers.
Incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease in UK primary care: a population-based cohort study
BMJ Open 2020;10:e036584. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036584