Role of the Family in IBD Patients

"Neuroticism", depression and anxiety are common complaints of colitic patients. It is known but not widely investigated that the family can influence both onset and course of IBD [14]. However, there is evidence that the patient's adjustment is more difficult if family relationships are unstable whereas it is easier in case of strong social support [15]. Family life itself is affected by the course of the IBD patient, as expressed emotions of family members play a major role in helping the patient adjust within the community [15]. Patients with hostile relatives are likely to have more recurrences of their colitis when compared with subjects whose family do not show these high emotional components [16,17].

The mothers of 72 children and adolescents with IBD and the mothers of 44 controls with severe illness (cystic fibrosis) were interviewed. Fifty-one per cent of IBD mothers had a lifetime history of depression compared with 41% of controls. More IBD mothers than controls had a history of suicide attempts [18]. Twenty families who had children with IBD and 20 comparison families were studied concerning parental distress. Interestingly, mothers in the IBD group scored very high on parental distress whereas fathers did not differ from the comparison group [19].

Therefore, apparently the mother plays a major role when compared with the father in the illness of an IBD son or daughter. However, the following case report, even if anecdotical, might demonstrate that also the relationship between a son with IBD and his father might be important for the course of the disease.

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