Inflammatory bowel disease nurse specialists for patients on biological therapies: a nationwide Italian survey

Authors Alessandra Guarini, Francesca De Marinis, Anna Kohn, Nicoletta Orzes, Renata D'Incà, Teresa Iannone, Antonella Giaquinto, Cinzia Rivara, Lorenzo Ridola, Roberto Lorenzetti, Angelo Zullo, Italian IBD Nurses Study Group.


Background Management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients requires a multidisciplinary approach. Among the working team, the role of IBD nurse is expected to be particularly relevant when managing patients receiving biological therapies. We performed a survey to assess the presence of IBD nurse in centers where patients were receiving biologics.

Methods For this Italian nationwide survey a specific questionnaire was prepared. IBD nurse was defined as a nurse directly involved in all phases of biological therapy, from pre-therapy screening, administration and monitoring during therapy, to follow up performed by a dedicated helpline, completed a specific training on biological therapy therapy, and observed international guidelines.

Results A total of 53 Italian IBD centers participated in the survey, and 91 valid questionnaires were collected. Overall, 34 (37.4%) nurses could be classified as IBD specialists. IBD nurses had a significantly higher educational level than other nurses, they were more frequently operating in Central or Southern than in Northern Italy, they were working in an Academic center rather than in a General hospital, and in IBD centers with >25 patients on biological therapy. On the contrary, mean age, gender distribution, years of nursing, and years working in the IBD unit did not significantly differ between IBD and other nurses.

Conclusions Our nationwide survey showed that the presence of an IBD nurse is still lacking in the majority of Italian IBD centers where patients receive biological therapies, suggesting a prompt implementation.

Keywords Inflammatory bowel disease, biological therapy, management, nursing

Ann Gastroenterol 2016; 29 (4): 492-496

Original Articles