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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 89-93
Original Article

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Nurses in Canada: An Examination of Canadian Gastroenterology Nurses and Their Role in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Care

Jennifer G Stretton,1 Barbara K Currie,2 and Usha K Chauhan3

1Division of Gastroenterology, St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
2Division of Gastroenterology, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
3Division of Gastroenterology, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Received 29 October 2013; Accepted 3 November 2013

Copyright © 2014 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic relapsing illness primarily including Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. The disease course often fluctuates over time, and requires maintenance therapy and acute interventions to target disease flares. IBD management requires a multidisciplinary approach, with care from physicians, nurses, dieticians, social workers and psychologists. Because nurses play a pivotal role in managing chronic disease, the aim of the present study was to assess and determine how many nurses work primarily with IBD patients in Canada.

METHODS: A 29-question survey was developed using an Internet-based survey tool ( to investigate nursing demographics, IBD nursing roles and nursing services provided across Canada. Distribution included the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, Progress (AbbVie Corporation, USA) and BioAdvance (Janssen Inc, USA) coordinators (via e-mail), and online availability for 15 weeks.

RESULTS: Of 275 survey respondents, 98.2% were female nurses, with 68.7% employed in full-time positions. Among them, 42.5% were between 51 and 60 years of age, and 32.4% were between 41 and 50 years of age. In addition, 53.8% were diploma-prepared registered nurses, 35.3% were Baccalaureate-prepared nurses and 4.4% were Masters-prepared nurses. Almost one-half (44% [n=121]) were employed in Ontario, followed by 19.6% (n=54) in Alberta and 9.1% (n=25) in British Columbia. All provinces were represented with the exception of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Forty-three per cent (n=119) of nurses identified as working in endoscopy units. Of the 90% who responded as working with IBD patients, only 30% (n=79) had a primary role in IBD care. Among these 79 nurses with a primary role in IBD care, 79.7% worked with the adult population, 10.1% with the pediatric population, and 10.1% worked with both adult and pediatric patients. Their major service was an outpatient setting (67.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: Survey results showed that only a small percentage of Canadian gastroenterology nurses provide clinical IBD care. Many have multiple roles and responsibilities, and provide a variety of services. The exact depth of care and service is unclear and further study is needed.