BACKGROUND: Rural residence has been associated with a lower incidence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) but higher health care utilization and worse outcomes. Socioeconomic status is intrinsically tied to both IBD incidence and outcomes. Inflammatory bowel disease outcomes have not been investigated in Appalachia: a rural, economically distressed region rife with risk factors for both increased incidence and unfavorable outcomes.

METHODS: Hospital inpatient discharge and outpatient services databases were utilized to assess outcomes in patients diagnosed with either Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) in Kentucky. Encounters were classified by patient residence in Appalachian or non-Appalachian counties. Data were reported as crude and age-adjusted rates of visits per 100,000 population per year collected in 2016 to 2019. National inpatient discharge data from 2019, stratified by rural and urban classification codes, were utilized to compare Kentucky to national trends.

RESULTS: Crude and age-adjusted rates of inpatient, emergency department and outpatient encounters were higher in the Appalachian cohort for all 4 years observed. Appalachian inpatient encounters are more frequently associated with a surgical procedure (Appalachian, 676, 24.7% vs non-Appalachian, 1408, 22.2%; P = .0091). In 2019, the Kentucky Appalachian cohort had significantly higher crude and age-adjusted rates of inpatient discharges for all IBD diagnoses compared with national rural and nonrural populations (crude 55.2; 95% CI, 50.9-59.5; age-adjusted 56.7; 95% CI, 52.1-61.3).

CONCLUSIONS: There is disproportionately higher IBD health care utilization in Appalachian Kentucky compared with all cohorts, including the national rural population. There is a need for aggressive investigation into root causes of these disparate outcomes and identification of barriers to appropriate IBD care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jun 6 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


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