From the Journals

Online assessment identifies excess steroid use in IBD patients



An online assessment tool can be used to identify patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) who are receiving an excess of corticosteroids, and a quality improvement plan lowered the use of excess corticosteroids, according to recent research in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

Since measurement of excess corticosteroid use can be measured through an online assessment tool in clinical practice and long-term corticosteroid use is associated with adverse outcomes, it may be a quality marker for patients with IBD, wrote Christian P. Selinger, MD, from the Leeds (England) Gastroenterology Institute and colleagues. “Such key performance indicators have previously been lacking in IBD, unlike other disease areas such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Over a period of 3 months, Dr. Selinger and colleagues collected prospective data from 2,385 patients with IBD at 19 centers in England, Wales, and Scotland who had received steroids within the last year. The researchers divided the centers into groups based on whether they participated in the quality improvement program (7 centers), were new to the process of collecting data on steroid use (11 centers), or did not participate in the program (1 center). The seven centers that participated in the intervention were part of an audit that began in 2017, while the other centers were evaluated over a 3-month period between April and July 2017. Patients were asked questions about their steroid use, including whether the steroids were prescribed for their IBD, how long the course of steroids was, how many courses of steroids they received, and if they were able to stop using steroids without their symptoms returning.

The researchers found 14.8% of patients had an excess of steroids or were dependent on steroids, and patients at centers that participated in the quality improvement programs had a lower rate of exposure (23.8% vs. 31.0%; P less than .001) and a lower rate of steroid excess (11.5% vs. 17.1%; P less than .001) than did patients at sites that did not participate in the program. Centers with the improvement program also had steroid use decrease over time, from 30.0% in 2015 to 23.8% in 2017 (P = .003), and steroid excess also decreased from 13.8% at those centers to 11.5% during that time (P equals .17). The researchers noted that, in over half of cases (50.7%), the steroid excess was “avoidable.”

In patients with Crohn’s disease, those who had reduced steroid excess were more likely to be part of an intervention center (odds ratio, 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.46-0.97), at a center with a multidisciplinary team (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.20-0.86), or receiving maintenance anti–tumor necrosis factor therapy (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.24-0.95); in contrast, patients who received aminosalicylate were more likely to have steroid excess (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.24-2.09). Steroid excess in ulcerative colitis (UC) patients was more likely among those receiving thiopurine monotherapy (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.19‐3.01), while UC patients at an intervention center were less likely to have steroid excess (OR; 0.72; 95% CI, 0.45‐0.95).

The researchers said the online assessment is limited in assessing the reason for steroid excess and is unable to consider variables such as patient age, sex, IBD phenotype, and disease duration, but is a “simple, pragmatic tool” that can be used in real time in a clinical setting.

“This advances the case for steroid excess as a potential key performance indicator of quality in an IBD service, although in order for clinicians to benchmark their service and provide targets for improvements, any numerical goal attached to this key performance indicator would require consideration of case mix. Further data, including from national and international contexts, is needed,” concluded Dr. Selinger and colleagues.

The authors reported AbbVie provided the funding to develop the steroid assessment tool, as well as honoraria for invited attendees of the quality improvement plan, which the company also sponsored.

SOURCE: Selinger CP et al. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2019. doi: 10.1111/apt.15497.

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