Disparity in the Care of Black Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients

J Liu. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2021; 27: 1548-1549. Disparity in the Care of Black Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients

This first-hand account of the challenges of IBD care for black patients comes from the first IBD specialist recruited to Grady Hospital (Atlanta) which has a predominantly Black patient population.

Key points:

  • “The clinical, endoscopic, and histologic end points…on treatment in this patient population are all largely unknown…Black people account for 13% of the U.S. population but only 1% of the patients in nearly 200 outcome-based IBD studies [and] less than 5% of the patients participating in clinical trials of IBD therapeutics.” This is important as “we just do not know how they work for Black people.” Treatment response could be much worse (author notes that prior treatments for Hepatitis C were much less effective in Black patients).
  • Yet, “the most severe forms of Crohn’s –peri-anal and fistulizing disease– are more common in Black patients.”
  • Review of emergency visits of IBD children “showed that Black children received less medication and had more repeat emergency room visits than white children.” (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2019; 25: 194-203)
  • Because IBD is not perceived to occur frequently in Black patients, the author states that some patients are not accommodated by their employers and patients are less comfortable with support groups.
  • “However, the incidence of Crohn’s disease …in Black people has risen sharply over the past 3 decades…now approaches that of non-Hispanic whites.”

My take: Inflammatory bowel disease is definitely a disease that affects Black people; it is often more severe and requires careful treatment.

Billy Goat Trail, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
(outside Washington D.C.). Yes, we made it to the top!

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