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Research project


Status: Completed

Reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in order to improve quality of life and the clinical course of disease.

What we do

About our project

Background information 

In HAPPY-IBD we investigate the effect of a disease-specific cognitive behavioral therapy in adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and subclinical anxiety/depression on psychological symptoms (anxiety/depression) and the clinical course of disease.

About a third of young IBD patients suffer from anxiety and/or depressive symptoms. A bidirectional relationship is suggested between psychological problems and intestinal inflammation (also known as the brain-gut axis). Psychological problems can negatively influence intestinal inflammation and contribute to disease relapse, and vice versa. In addition, psychological problems affect quality of life, school performance and can disrupt family functioning.

Overall aim 

This multicentre randomised controlled trial aims to test the effectiveness of a disease specific cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in young IBD patients in order to improve quality of life and to improve the clinical course of disease.ow will you perform this research?

Research method 

In this trial 70 patients of 6 different Dutch centers participated. Patients were screened for anxiety and depression using online questionnaires. Patients with subclinical symptoms for anxiety and/or depression, but without signs of a clinical disorder, as assessed by a psychiatric interview, were randomized to either medical care as usual(CAU) or CAU + IBD-specific CBT (+CBT). Medical and psychological data are gathered at baseline and after 3,6 and 12 months.

Desirable outcome

We hypothesize that CBT will reduce symptoms of both depression and anxiety, but also reduce intestinal inflammation and will promote sustained clinical remission.


Collaboration outside of Erasmus MC

University of Pittsburgh, USA, Pittsbugh, Eva M Szigethy MD, PhD.