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IBD and advice for adults


The issue of employment generates a lot of questions. Questions surrounding how to manage work load during work absences, disclosure of illness to employers and work colleagues, and types of work suitable.

Handy tips

Communicating with your medical team

  • It is not uncommon to feel intimidated and rushed when communicating with your treating team
  • Your gastroenterologist is a specialist and has trained many years to provide you with an empathetic and expert service
  • It is important to your health care that you develop a relationship with your gastroenterologist that is based on respect and honesty and that you feel comfortable and forthcoming with sharing information about your illness

Handy tips: What can you do to improve communication with your treating team?

Keep a diary of your symptoms and concerns

Be honest with your gastroenterologist about your symptoms and any drugs or medication that you may be taking. Record in your diary your symptoms. For example, record the number of bowel movements per day; whether or not there was any blood in your stool; and whether you experienced bloating, vomiting, or any pain associated with symptoms. List any complications you have with you IBD and any medications and any side-effects that you may have experienced.

Over time dates may get a little hazy you may want to keep dates of any surgical procedures, investigation and results that you may have had in a notebook with a list of any other medical history you may have or your family history of medical concerns and any allergies that you may have. Your notebook and diary will help you communicate succinctly about your illness.

Make a list of all the questions you may want to ask your gastroenterologist

It does not matter how big or how small the questions may be or how silly you may think the question is. Prioritse the questions you need to have answered at your next appointment and the ones that can wait to a later appointment. You may want to give your gastroenterologist a copy of your questions prior to your appointment so that your gastroenterologist can consider them. Also be aware that there are time limits to your appointment and that there will be follow up visits.

Commonly asked questions may include:

  • What causes Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?
  • Will the treatment impact on fertility?
  • Is there a cure?
  • When should I go to the emergency department?
  • What are the side effects of medical intervention?
  • Does the treatment cause sexual dysfunction?
  • Are there alternative treatments for Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?
  • How does smoking impact on IBD?
  • Can I drink alcohol if I have IBD?
  • What kinds of tests will be performed to confirm a diagnosis of Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?
  • Are there foods that make my symptoms worse?
  • Is there a link between cancer and IBD?
  • What symptoms do I need to look out for and who should I contact first you or my GP?
  • What is the best way to contact you?

Having your questions answered may assist with you to be empowered to take responsibility and to make informed decisions about your treatment. It is important to remember that everyone's information needs are different and that it is also okay not to ask many questions.

Take someone with you when you go to your medical appointment

Often when people receive test results they are feeling nervous and it is harder to concentrate and process information. You may consider taking someone to the medical appointment with you. Your friend, family member or caseworker can be there to take notes or just hear what your gastroenterologist has to say and discuss this at a later time with you. If you do not have someone who can attend with you, you may take notes, record the session or even request that your gastroenterologist writes information down for you and or gives you recommended reading.

Get a second opinion

It is okay to seek a second opinion before commencing a new treatment or having a surgical procedure. You will not offend your gastroenterologist and your gastroenterologist will not treat you any different if you seek a second opinion. It is your body and you need to feel confident about your treatment decisions.

Request time to make decisions

Unless your medical condition is in an urgent state, it is important that you ask your gastroenterologist for enough time to make treatment decisions without placing your health at risk for further deterioration.

Ensure all members of your health team are communicating

Ensure that your health professionals have provided you with the names and phone numbers of everyone involved in treating your IBD. It is very important that your Gastroenterologist, GP, Surgeon, Naturopath, Psychologist, Dietician etc are communicating and working together so that you are not receiving contradictive information and treatments.

Request an interpreter

It is really important that you understand what your doctor is saying to you. Most hospitals have access to interpreters or telephone interpreters. You can request an interpreter to be present in your appointment with your medical practitioner.

Enquire about support for your emotional health

Living with a chronic illness can impact on your emotional health. It can cause stress, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, loss of confidence and self esteem, body image concerns relationship and social difficulties. You can request that your doctor refer you to a psychologist within the hospital or you can access psychological support through the Better Access Initiative by discussing your concerns with you GP. For Further information please visit http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Medicare_Fact_Sheet2.pdf

Using Dr Google

There is lots of good information on the web but also some misleading information. Discuss with your doctors websites that you are looking at and ask your doctor if there are sites that they can recommend.

Access your medical records

You may want to look over your records, or take a copy or have someone explain them to you. To access your records you can discuss this with your treating team and they will direct you to the Health Information Service of you hospital and they will organize access for you. If you find that information in you record is incorrect you can it corrected. For further information on accessing your medical records please visit http://www.privacy.gov.au/faq/health/q5

Know your Rights as a patient

The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights describes the rights of patients using the Australian healthcare system. To access a detailed summary of your rights visit http://www.health.vic.gov.au/patientcharter/consumers/summary.htm

The following are some of your rights outlined by The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights in Victoria:

  • Access: You have a right to the health care you need
  • Safety: You have a right to safe, high quality care
  • Respect: You have a right to be treated with respect, dignity and consideration
  • Communication: You have a right to clear, understandable information – and to ask questions – about your condition, treatment options, expected outcomes, side effects and costs
  • Participation: You have a right to take an active role in your health care, and to participate in decisions about your treatment
  • Privacy: You have a right to privacy and confidentiality of your personal information
  • Comment: You have a right to give positive or negative feedback, ask questions and make complaints about your care


If you are interested in other gastrointestinal-focused information and intervention websites developed and hosted at
Swinburne University of Technology,
please go to:

IBSclinic.org.au for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Gastroparesisclinic.org for individuals with Gastroparesis


This website and its content is not intended or recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

© 2014 Swinburne University of Technology | CRICOS number 00111D