To determine whether the perceived impact of ulcerative colitis (UC) on activities of living (illness intrusiveness) is greater for people who are not living in a married or common-law relationship.
In general, social and occupational achievement is not greatly impaired by UC, yet patients, especially young adults, often have interpersonal concerns.
One hundred fifty-five outpatients with UC were assessed for disease activity, and completed self-reports of marital status, income, social support and illness intrusiveness.
Fifty-one patients (32.9%) were single, separated or divorced, and 104 patients (67.1%) were married or in common-law relationships. Compared with those who were married or in common-law relationships, single or separated patients were younger, had a lower household income, had lived with UC for fewer years and were less satisfied with social support. Among 135 patients in remission, marital status was significantly associated with illness intrusiveness, controlling for age, income and perceived social support (F=5.73; P=0.02). Low social support (F=4.94; P=0.03) and younger age (F=7.24; P=0.008) were independently associated with illness intrusiveness. Single patients in remission reported illness intrusiveness of similar severity to that reported by patients with active disease.
The perceived impact of UC on the lives of patients is greater in those who are not married or living in common-law relationships. Youth, single status and lower social support commonly coexist, and exert additive effects on the functional impact of UC. Resources to improve social support should be directed toward this group of patients.