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High-utilizing Crohn's disease patients under psychosomatic therapy*

Hans-Christian Deter13*, Jörn von Wietersheim23, Günther Jantschek23, Friederike Burgdorf13, Brigitta Blum13, Wolfram Keller13 and the German Study Group on Psychosocial Intervention in Crohn's Disease

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Charité Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany

2 Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Medical University Lübeck, Germany

3 Medical Clinic I Gastroenterology, Charité Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany

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BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2008, 2:18  doi:10.1186/1751-0759-2-18

Published: 13 October 2008



Few studies have been published on health care utilization in Crohn's disease and the influence of psychological treatment on high utilizers.


The present sub study of a prospective multi center investigation conducted in 87 of 488 consecutive Crohn's disease (CD) patients was designed to investigate the influence of the course of Crohn's disease on health care utilization (hospital days (HD) and sick leave days (SLD) collected by German insurance companies) and to examine the conditions of high-utilizing patients. Predictors of health care utilization should be selected. Based on a standardized somatic treatment, high health care utilizing patients of the psychotherapy and control groups should be compared before and after a one-year treatment.


Multivariate regression analysis identified disease activity at randomization as an important predictor of the clinical course (r2 = 0.28, p < 0.01). Health care utilization correlated with duration of disease (p < 0.04), but the model was not significant (r2 = 0.15, p = 0.09). The patients' level of anxiety, depression and lack of control at randomization predicted their health-related quality of life at the end of the study (r2 = 0.51, p < 0.00001). Interestingly, steroid intake and depression (t1) predicted the combined outcome measure (clinical course, HRQL, health care utilization) of Crohn's disease at the end of the study (r2 = 0.22, p < 0.001).

Among high utilizers, a significantly greater drop in HD (p < 0.03) and in mean in SLD were found in the treatment compared to the control group.


The course of Crohn's disease is influenced by psychological as well as somatic factors; especially depression seems important here. A significant drop of health care utilization demonstrates the benefit of psychological treatment in the subgroup of high-utilizing CD patients. Further studies are needed to replicate the findings of the clinical outcome in this CD subgroup.