× NICE uses cookies to make the site better.  Learn more
A-Z
Topics
Latest

Irritable bowel syndrome in adults

About

What is covered

This pathway covers the diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults (18 years and older) in primary care.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, with a prevalence estimated at between 10% and 20%. People present to primary care with a wide range of symptoms, some of which overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders.
Key elements of management are:
  • establishing a positive diagnosis
  • identifying symptoms that require prompt referral and
  • working in a long-term partnership with the person with irritable bowel syndrome.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

18 October 2016 Coeliac disease (NICE quality standard 134) added.
10 February 2016 Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE quality standard 114) added.
25 February 2015 Inflammatory bowel disease (NICE quality standard 81) added.
24 February 2015 New and amended recommendations on the clinical management (dietary and lifestyle advice, and pharmacological therapy) of people with IBS have been added to further dietary management and second-line pharmacological treatment in this pathway as the NICE guideline on irritable bowel syndrome in adults has been updated (CG61).
1 October 2013 Faecal calprotectin diagnostic tests for inflammatory diseases of the bowel (NICE diagnostics guidance 11) added in confirming a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in people who meet the diagnostic criteria and SeHCAT (tauroselcholic [75 selenium] acid) for the investigation of diarrhoea due to bile acid malabsorption in people with diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) or Crohn's disease without ileal resection (NICE diagnostics guidance 7) added to related guidance.

Important information about diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome

Confirming a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is crucial. The primary aim should be to establish the person's symptom profile, with abdominal pain or discomfort being a key symptom. It is also necessary to establish the quantity and quality of the pain or discomfort, and to identify its site (which can be anywhere in the abdomen) and whether this varies. This distinguishes irritable bowel syndrome from cancer-related pain, which typically has a fixed site.
When establishing bowel habit, showing people the Bristol stool form scale may help them with description, particularly when determining quality and quantity of stool. People presenting with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms commonly report incomplete evacuation/rectal hypersensitivity, as well as urgency, which is increased in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. About 20% of people experiencing faecal incontinence disclose their incontinence only if asked. People who present with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome should be asked open questions to establish the presence of such symptoms (for example, 'tell me about how your symptoms affect aspects of your daily life, such as leaving the house'). Healthcare professionals should be sensitive to the cultural, ethnic and communication needs of people for whom English is not a first language or who may have cognitive and/or behavioural problems or disabilities. These factors should be taken into consideration to facilitate effective consultation.

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Person-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Short Text

Everything NICE has said on recognising, diagnosing and managing coeliac disease in an interactive flowchart

What is covered

This pathway covers the diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome in adults (18 years and older) in primary care.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, with a prevalence estimated at between 10% and 20%. People present to primary care with a wide range of symptoms, some of which overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders.
Key elements of management are:
  • establishing a positive diagnosis
  • identifying symptoms that require prompt referral and
  • working in a long-term partnership with the person with irritable bowel syndrome.

Updates

Updates to this pathway

18 October 2016 Coeliac disease (NICE quality standard 134) added.
10 February 2016 Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE quality standard 114) added.
25 February 2015 Inflammatory bowel disease (NICE quality standard 81) added.
24 February 2015 New and amended recommendations on the clinical management (dietary and lifestyle advice, and pharmacological therapy) of people with IBS have been added to further dietary management and second-line pharmacological treatment in this pathway as the NICE guideline on irritable bowel syndrome in adults has been updated (CG61).
1 October 2013 Faecal calprotectin diagnostic tests for inflammatory diseases of the bowel (NICE diagnostics guidance 11) added in confirming a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in people who meet the diagnostic criteria and SeHCAT (tauroselcholic [75 selenium] acid) for the investigation of diarrhoea due to bile acid malabsorption in people with diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) or Crohn's disease without ileal resection (NICE diagnostics guidance 7) added to related guidance.

Sources

NICE guidance and other sources used to create this pathway.
Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management (2008 updated 2015) NICE guideline CG61
Coeliac disease (2016) NICE quality standard 134
Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (2016) NICE quality standard 114
Inflammatory bowel disease (2015) NICE quality standard 81

Quality standards

Inflammatory bowel disease

These quality statements are taken from the inflammatory bowel disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice for inflammatory bowel disease care and should be read in full.

Irritable bowel syndrome in adults

These quality statements are taken from the irritable bowel syndrome in adults quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice for irritable bowel syndrome in adults and should be read in full.

Coeliac disease

These quality statements are taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statements

Specialist assessment

This quality statement is taken from the inflammatory bowel disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in inflammatory bowel disease care and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People with suspected inflammatory bowel disease have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.

Rationale

A confirmed diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease is always made in an age appropriate specialist setting using a combination of haematological, endoscopic, histological and imaging based investigations. A delay in assessment and diagnosis can be associated with adverse consequences, such as clinical complications and a negative effect on the person’s quality of life. Some people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease who have severe symptoms will need an urgent specialist assessment, the urgency of which will depend on clinical need and might include an emergency admission, but no one should wait more than 4 weeks from referral for a specialist assessment.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local referral pathways to ensure that people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on referral pathways for urgent referrals are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, question OC1.2, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, question OC2.1.
Process
Proportion of people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease who have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.
Denominator – the number of people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease who are referred for specialist assessment.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on the time it takes for urgent referrals to be seen are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, question OC1.3, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, questions OC2.4 and 2.6.
Outcome
Patient experience of the referral process.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (district general hospitals) ensure that local referral pathways are in place so that people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease are referred quickly and efficiently, and have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.
Healthcare professionals ensure that they follow agreed local referral pathways so that people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease are referred quickly and efficiently, and have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services that make use of agreed local referral pathways so that people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease are referred quickly and efficiently, and have a specialist assessment within 4 weeks of referral. This can be achieved through enhanced monitoring of contracts and establishing regular and timely auditing procedures.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

People with suspected inflammatory bowel disease are seen by a specialist in hospital for an assessment within 4 weeks of being referred by their GP. This means that a diagnosis can be made without delay and treatment options can be discussed. The specialist assessment might involve having blood tests or endoscopy (using a camera to provide images of the inside of the body). Inflammatory bowel disease includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Sometimes it is not possible to tell whether a person has Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and they may be described as having ‘inflammatory bowel disease unclassified’ (IBDU).

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Suspected inflammatory bowel disease
People with any of the following lower gastrointestinal symptoms that have been present for at least 6 weeks should be suspected of having inflammatory bowel disease:
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • bloating
  • change in bowel habit (such as diarrhoea with or without rectal bleeding).
Faecal biomarkers, such as faecal calprotectin, alongside clinical assessment may be useful in primary care to distinguish between suspected inflammatory bowel disease and non inflammatory bowel disease, such as irritable bowel syndrome. [Adapted from Faecal calprotectin diagnostic tests for inflammatory diseases of the bowel NICE diagnostics guidance 11, section 3.1, and IBD Standards, standard A4]. The Quality Standard Advisory Committee noted that, in some people with severe symptoms, inflammatory bowel disease might be suspected before the symptoms have been present for 6 weeks, and these people need earlier referral (before 6 weeks).
Specialist assessment
People with suspected inflammatory bowel disease should be referred for specialist assessment using local referral pathways by a GP directly to a defined specialist (consultant gastroenterologist or consultant paediatric gastroenterologist) or to an age appropriate inflammatory bowel disease service. Specialist assessment enables consideration of a possible diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease using a range of investigations. These include clinical evaluation and a combination of biochemical, endoscopic, radiological and histological investigations to confirm a diagnosis. [Expert opinion and British Society of Gastroenterology guidelines, section 3.3]
Within 4 weeks of referral
The timeframe of 4 weeks is based on expert consensus and is intended to be a safety net to ensure that no one waits longer than 4 weeks for specialist assessment. However, it is recognised that some people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease who have severe symptoms will need an urgent specialist assessment. In such cases ‘within 4 weeks’ is subject to clinical judgement and a considerably shorter timeframe may be necessary, for example within 2 weeks. Therefore an effective local referral pathway should ensure that people with suspected inflammatory bowel disease are seen within 4 weeks of referral, or more rapidly if clinically necessary. Services that already see patients earlier than 4 weeks from referral should maintain this speed of referral and assessment. [Expert opinion and IBD Standards, standard A4]

Equality and diversity considerations

The symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease may have a different impact on people of different gender, sexuality, culture and age. Referral processes and assessments need to be sensitive to individual anxieties and take into account any additional needs, such as the availability of doctors of the same sex, and any language barriers.

Multidisciplinary team support

This quality statement is taken from the inflammatory bowel disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in inflammatory bowel disease care and should be read in full.

Quality statement

Services provide age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team for people with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers.

Rationale

Inflammatory bowel disease can have diverse effects on a person. In addition to its physical impact, there can be emotional, psychological and social consequences. A multidisciplinary team has a wide range of expertise that can help address these issues, and it is important that services for people with inflammatory bowel disease provide this support.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence that services provide age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team for people with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on patient support and the inflammatory bowel disease team are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, sections 2 and 3, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, sections 2 and 3.
Process
a) Proportion of people with inflammatory bowel disease where there is a documented discussion about their needs, and the needs of their family members or carers (if appropriate), for age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team.
Numerator – the number in the denominator where there is a documented discussion about their needs, and the needs of their family members or carers (if appropriate), for age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team.
Denominator – the number of people with inflammatory bowel disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Proportion of people with inflammatory bowel disease whose needs, and the needs of their family members or carers (if appropriate), for age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team are met.
Numerator – the number in the denominator whose needs, and the needs of their family members or carers (if appropriate), for age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team are met.
Denominator – the number of people with inflammatory bowel disease whose needs for age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team are recorded.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
a) Satisfaction of people with inflammatory bowel disease with the support provided.
Data source: Local data collection. The Experience of inpatients with ulcerative colitis throughout the UK audit asks various questions about patient experience of support in hospital.
b) Satisfaction of family members or carers of people with inflammatory bowel disease with the support provided.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (district general hospitals) ensure that systems are in place so that people with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers, have age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team.
Healthcare professionals work within a multidisciplinary team to provide age appropriate support to people with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups) ensure that they commission services in which people with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers, have age appropriate support from a multidisciplinary team.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

People with inflammatory bowel disease, and their family members or carers, have support from a care team made up of a range of different professionals (including nurses, doctors, dietitians and pharmacists). The type of support they get should depend on the person’s age (for example, whether they are an adult or a child), and should help to deal with any concerns about the condition and its treatment.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Age-appropriate support
Age appropriate support should be broad based and offered by those who are best placed at the time to meet the needs of people with inflammatory bowel disease and their family members or carers. A person's support needs will vary depending on age. For example, a child or young person's concerns might be more focused on body image, transition between services and attending school and higher education, whereas an adult might be more concerned with employment and sexual issues. Other issues for which people may need support include concerns about the disease and its treatment, nutrition and diet, and other aspects of living with a chronic illness. Support could include signposting to reliable and accurate information on a broad range of topics or having access to a dedicated telephone or email service where people can raise concerns or questions. [Adapted from Crohn's disease NICE guideline CG152 and IBD Standards, standard A11]
Multidisciplinary team
An inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team should comprise gastroenterologists, colorectal surgeons and clinical nurse specialists with particular expertise and specialist interest in inflammatory bowel disease, a dietitian allocated to gastroenterology, and a pharmacist, pathologist and radiologist with special interest in gastroenterology. The team should have access to essential supporting services with an interest in inflammatory bowel disease, including a psychologist or counsellor, rheumatologist, ophthalmologist, dermatologist, obstetrician, nutrition support team, paediatric gastroenterology clinical network and general practice. There should be a named clinical lead for the inflammatory bowel disease team. [Adapted from IBD Standards, standards A1 and A2]

Surgery

This quality statement is taken from the inflammatory bowel disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in inflammatory bowel disease care and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People having surgery for inflammatory bowel disease have it undertaken by a colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.

Rationale

Better patient outcomes are more likely if surgery for inflammatory bowel disease is undertaken by a colorectal surgeon with expertise and experience in inflammatory bowel disease surgery, with the support of an experienced clinical team. Such expertise is most likely to be in a unit where such surgery is performed regularly. The expertise and experience of the clinical team will enable the best judgement of when to undertake surgery, and should ensure the quality of clinical care before, during and after surgery.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people having surgery for inflammatory bowel disease have it undertaken by a colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on surgery for inflammatory bowel disease are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3.
Process
Proportion of surgical procedures for inflammatory bowel disease undertaken by a colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.
Numerator – the number in the denominator undertaken by a colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.
Denominator – the number of surgical procedures for inflammatory bowel disease.
Data source: Local data collection and Hospital episode statistics from The Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Outcome
Complications after surgery.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (district general hospitals and specialist tertiary centres) ensure that surgery for inflammatory bowel disease is undertaken by a colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.
Healthcare professionals undertake inflammatory bowel disease surgery if they are colorectal surgeons with expertise and experience in such surgery, or refer people to a colorectal surgeon with relevant expertise and experience who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services from providers who can demonstrate that surgery for inflammatory bowel disease is undertaken by colorectal surgeons who are core members of inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary teams.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

People who have surgery for inflammatory bowel disease have their operation carried out by a specialist surgeon called a colorectal surgeon who is a member of the inflammatory bowel disease care team. This will make it more likely that the operation is a success and ensure good care. Patients should always be involved in the decision to have surgery after a discussion of the benefits and risks.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Surgery for inflammatory bowel disease
The types of operation performed for inflammatory bowel disease include colectomy, ileo–anal pouch procedure, ileostomy and intestinal resection. [Adapted from Crohn's disease NICE guideline CG152, Ulcerative colitis NICE guideline CG166 and British Society of Gastroenterology guidelines]
Colorectal surgeon who is a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team
The surgeon should have expertise and experience in undertaking surgery for inflammatory bowel disease and be able to make informed decisions about the need for surgery and the timing of surgery. Their predominant workload should involve inflammatory bowel disease and they should be a core member of the inflammatory bowel disease multidisciplinary team. Skilled and experienced surgeons, supported by an experienced clinical team, are most likely to be in units where such surgery is performed regularly.
When emergency procedures have to be performed, these may need to be done by a surgeon with the appropriate skills and experience who is available to perform the surgery. Children and young people should have their operations performed by surgeons with expertise in operating on children and young people with inflammatory bowel disease.
[Expert opinion and IBD Standards, standard A12]

Equality and diversity considerations

People from different cultures who need certain surgical procedures for inflammatory bowel disease, such as stoma operations, may need additional support if such procedures are not considered acceptable in their community.

Monitoring drug treatment

This quality statement is taken from the inflammatory bowel disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in inflammatory bowel disease care and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease are monitored for adverse effects.

Rationale

People with inflammatory bowel disease may experience different responses to drug treatment, including adverse effects. How a person responds to drug treatment therefore needs to be monitored using local safety policies and procedures, and treatment adjusted to ensure the best quality of life outcomes and patient safety.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of documented local safety policies and procedures to monitor for adverse effects in people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on local protocols and monitoring arrangements for immunosuppressives are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3.
Process
Proportion of people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease who are monitored for adverse effects.
Numerator – the number in the denominator for whom there is documented evidence that there is monitoring for adverse effects of drug treatment according to local safety policies and procedures.
Denominator – the number of people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on local protocols and monitoring arrangements for immunosuppressives are available in the National audit of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3, and the National audit of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) service provision, section 3. Data on treatment follow up, acute reactions and adverse events are available in the results tables of the National clinical audit of biological therapies, Adult report and Paediatric report.
Outcome
The number of adverse events reported because of drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.
Data source: Local data collection. Data on adverse events are available in the results tables of the National clinical audit of biological therapies, Adult report and Paediatric report.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (general practices and district general hospitals) ensure that they have documented local safety policies and procedures that are used for monitoring for adverse effects in people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease and for acting on abnormal results.
Healthcare professionals ensure that they monitor for adverse effects in people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, using documented local safety policies and procedures, and they act on abnormal results.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services in which there is monitoring for adverse effects in people receiving drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease, using documented local safety policies and procedures, and abnormal results are acted on.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

People taking medication for inflammatory bowel disease have regular check ups for any side effects, and healthcare professionals take action if there are any concerns. This will lower the chances of the person having problems caused by the medication. People should be helped by their care team to understand treatment options and monitoring, including benefits, risks and possible consequences.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease
A number of drugs are used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, depending on the type and severity of the disease, observed side effects, contraindications and patient preference. Drugs used include aminosalicylates, corticosteroids, biological treatments and immunosuppressives. Full details of treatment options for people with inflammatory bowel disease, including drug treatment, can be found in NICE guideline CG152 and NICE guideline CG166. [Adapted from Crohn's disease NICE guideline CG152 and Ulcerative colitis NICE guideline CG166]
Monitoring for adverse effects
Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease aims to induce remission and control symptoms. Monitoring for adverse effects should identify side effects and potential adverse outcomes from long term use. Treatments that can cause adverse outcomes include thiopurines, methotrexate, aminosalicylates, immunosuppressives and corticosteroids. [Adapted from Crohn's disease NICE guideline CG152 and Ulcerative colitis NICE guideline CG166]
Full details of side effects, contraindications and monitoring (including blood tests, procedures and clinical review) that should be carried out for specific drugs are detailed in the current online version of the British national formulary or British national formulary for children.
Local safety policies and procedures
There should be monitoring for adverse effects in people having drug treatment for inflammatory bowel disease using local safety policies and procedures. These should include:
  • shared care arrangements between primary and secondary care and clearly defined responsibilities for healthcare professionals in primary and secondary care
  • clear referral pathways
  • locally agreed monitoring guidelines
  • clear access routes to urgent care
  • a nominated member or members of the multidisciplinary team to act on abnormal results and reports of side effects and communicate with relevant healthcare professionals and people with inflammatory bowel disease (and/or their family members or carers, as appropriate). [Adapted from Crohn's disease NICE guideline CG152 and Ulcerative colitis NICE guideline CG166, and expert opinion]

Excluding inflammatory causes

This quality statement is taken from the irritable bowel syndrome in adults quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in irritable bowel syndrome in adults and should be read in full.

Quality statement

Adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are offered tests for inflammatory markers as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes.

Rationale

Irritable bowel syndrome can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be similar to other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease. Tests for inflammatory markers are particularly useful to exclude inflammatory bowel disease and mean that fewer people have invasive procedures (such as colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies) to check for inflammatory causes of their symptoms.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are offered tests for inflammatory markers as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
Proportion of adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome who have tests for inflammatory markers as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who have tests for inflammatory markers as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes.
Denominator – the number of adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
Number of adults diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (GP practices) ensure that systems are in place for adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome to be offered tests for inflammatory markers (including faecal calprotectin and C-reactive protein) as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes of symptoms.
Healthcare professionals in primary care (GPs) offer adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome tests for inflammatory markers (including faecal calprotectin and C-reactive protein) as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes of symptoms.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services that offer tests for inflammatory markers (including faecal calprotectin and C-reactive protein) to adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as first-line investigation to exclude inflammatory causes of symptoms.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (such as constipation, diarrhoea and bloating) are offered blood and stool sample tests to check whether they have inflammation in their bowel. This will help their GP to find out what might be causing their symptoms and to diagnose their condition.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome should be considered if an adult presents with abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating or a change in bowel habit for at least 6 months. A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome should be considered only if the person has abdominal pain or discomfort that is either relieved by defaecation or is associated with altered bowel frequency or stool form. This should be accompanied by at least 2 of the following 4 symptoms:
  • altered stool passage (straining, urgency, incomplete evacuation)
  • abdominal bloating (more common in women than men), distension, tension or hardness
  • symptoms made worse by eating
  • passage of mucus.
Lethargy, nausea, backache and bladder symptoms are also common in people with irritable bowel syndrome, and may be used to support the diagnosis.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.1.1.1 and 1.1.1.4 (key priorities for implementation)]
Tests for inflammatory markers
Tests for inflammatory markers to exclude inflammatory causes include tests for faecal calprotectin and C-reactive protein. Inflammatory causes are usually excluded to help the diagnosis of mixed symptom (alternating between diarrhoea and constipation) or diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.
[Adapted from Faecal calprotectin diagnostic tests for inflammatory diseases of the bowel (NICE diagnostics guidance DG11), recommendation 1.1; Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.1.1.3 and 1.1.2.1 (key priorities for implementation); and expert opinion]
Inflammatory causes
Chronic diseases that cause inflammation of the digestive system, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
[Adapted from Inflammatory bowel disease (2015) NICE quality standard 81, introduction]

Giving a diagnosis

This quality statement is taken from the irritable bowel syndrome in adults quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in irritable bowel syndrome in adults and should be read in full.

Quality statement

Adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are given a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of symptoms.

Rationale

Irritable bowel syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, and it is important to reach the correct diagnosis while striking the right balance between too few and too many investigations. Under diagnosis and over investigation can prevent effective management. When red flag indicators and other causes of symptoms, such as coeliac disease, have been ruled out, a positive diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome can be made. Giving a positive diagnosis will help to reduce unnecessary anxiety in people with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are given a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of symptoms.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
Proportion of adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome who receive a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of symptoms.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who receive a positive diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.
Denominator – the number of adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome who have no red flag indicators and investigations identify no other cause of symptoms.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcomes
a) Incidence of irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection, for example, from Read coded patient records on GP clinical information systems.
b) Satisfaction with the irritable bowel syndrome diagnostic process.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (GP practices) ensure that adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are given a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of symptoms.
Healthcare professionals in primary care (GPs) give adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of their symptoms.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services that give adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome a positive diagnosis if no red flag indicators are present and investigations identify no other cause of their symptoms.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Adults with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (such as constipation, diarrhoea and bloating) are given a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome if they have no symptoms that need referral to a hospital consultant (these symptoms are known as red flag indicators) and tests show no other cause of their symptoms.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Positive diagnosis
Positive diagnosis means the diagnosis is not merely one of exclusion. It is based on the person’s symptoms meeting the diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome) and the findings of investigations ruling out realistic alternatives. A positive diagnosis allows the person with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and the GP to work towards symptom control.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61) full guideline]
Red flag indicators
These are symptoms that need referral to secondary care:
  • rectal bleeding
  • unexplained and unintentional weight loss
  • family history of bowel cancer or ovarian cancer
  • late onset (age over 60 years)
  • anaemia
  • abdominal masses
  • rectal masses
  • inflammatory markers for inflammatory bowel disease
  • a change in bowel habit to looser stools, more frequent stools or both, persisting for more than 6 weeks in a person over 60 years.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.1.1.2 and 1.1.1.3 (key priorities for implementation), and expert opinion]
Investigations
Investigations for adults presenting with suspected irritable bowel syndrome comprise an assessment and clinical examination for:
  • anaemia
  • abdominal masses
  • rectal masses
  • inflammatory markers for inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition, women with symptoms that suggest ovarian cancer should have their serum CA125 measured.
When the above have been excluded, the following tests should be done to exclude other diagnoses:
  • full blood count
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or plasma viscosity
  • C reactive protein (CRP)
  • antibodies for coeliac disease (endomysial antibodies [EMA] or tissue transglutaminase [TTG]).
The following tests are not necessary to confirm diagnosis in people who meet the diagnostic criteria for irritable bowel syndrome:
  • ultrasound
  • rigid/flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • colonoscopy, barium enema
  • thyroid function test
  • faecal ova and parasite test
  • faecal occult blood
  • hydrogen breath test (for lactose intolerance and bacterial overgrowth).
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.1.1.3, 1.1.2.1 and 1.1.2.2 (key priorities for implementation)]
Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome should be considered if an adult presents with abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating or a change in bowel habit for at least 6 months. A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome should be considered only if the person has abdominal pain or discomfort that is either relieved by defaecation or is associated with altered bowel frequency or stool form. This should be accompanied by at least 2 of the following 4 symptoms:
  • altered stool passage (straining, urgency, incomplete evacuation)
  • abdominal bloating (more common in women than men), distension, tension or hardness
  • symptoms made worse by eating
  • passage of mucus.
Lethargy, nausea, backache and bladder symptoms are also common in people with irritable bowel syndrome, and may be used to support the diagnosis.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.1.1.1 and 1.1.1.4 (key priorities for implementation)]

Dietary management

This quality statement is taken from the irritable bowel syndrome in adults quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in irritable bowel syndrome in adults and should be read in full.

Quality statement

Adults with irritable bowel syndrome are offered advice on further dietary management if their symptoms persist after they have followed general lifestyle and dietary advice.

Rationale

General lifestyle and dietary advice is important to empower people with irritable bowel syndrome to manage their condition and to improve their quality of life. However, when symptoms persist beyond a time agreed with their healthcare professional, specialist advice from a healthcare professional with expertise in dietary management can help people to manage persistent symptoms. This advice can be given in primary care by healthcare professionals with relevant expertise in dietary management or a referral may be made. This advice can also ensure that a person has an adequate nutritional intake when following food avoidance, restriction or exclusion diets.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome are offered advice on further dietary management if their symptoms persist after they have followed general lifestyle and dietary advice.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
Proportion of adults with irritable bowel syndrome who are offered advice on further dietary management if their symptoms persist after they have followed general lifestyle and dietary advice for an agreed time.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who receive advice on further dietary management.
Denominator – the number of adults with irritable bowel syndrome whose symptoms persist after they have followed general lifestyle and dietary advice for an agreed time.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcomes
a) People with irritable bowel syndrome feel confident to manage their condition.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Satisfaction with care received for irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (GP practices and dietetic services) ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome are offered advice on further dietary management from healthcare professionals with relevant expertise, if symptoms persist after following general lifestyle and dietary advice for an agreed time.
Healthcare professionals (such as GPs, and community and secondary care dietitians) ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome are offered advice on further dietary management, if symptoms persist after following general lifestyle and dietary advice for an agreed time. This advice can be given in primary care by healthcare professionals with relevant expertise in dietary management or a referral may be made.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services in which people with irritable bowel syndrome are offered advice on further dietary management from healthcare professionals with relevant expertise, if symptoms persist after following general lifestyle and dietary advice for an agreed time.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Adults with irritable bowel syndrome are offered further dietary advice from a healthcare professional with expertise in dietary management if their symptoms have not improved enough after following general advice on diet and lifestyle for a period of time agreed with their healthcare professional.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

General lifestyle and dietary advice
This is designed to help to minimise the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and should include:
  • creating relaxation time
  • increasing activity levels
  • having regular meals and taking time to eat
  • avoiding missing meals or leaving long gaps between eating.
Other general lifestyle and dietary advice includes:
  • drinking at least 8 cups (approximately 2,000 ml) of fluid per day, especially water or other non‑caffeinated drinks (for example, herbal teas)
  • restricting caffeinated tea and coffee to 3 cups (approximately 750 ml) per day
  • reducing intake of alcohol and soft drinks
  • limiting fresh fruit to 3 portions per day (a portion should be approximately 80 g)
  • avoiding sorbitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar‑free sweets (including chewing gum), drinks and in some diabetic and slimming products, if the person has diarrhoea
  • eating 30 g per day of fibre
  • adjusting the amount of fibre consumed by restricting or increasing certain foods.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendations 1.2.1.1 (key priority for implementation), 1.2.1.2, 1.2.1.3 and 1.2.1.4, and information for the public and expert opinion]
Further dietary management
There are specific types of diets which can be followed to help manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Single food avoidance is the exclusion of 1 food from the diet if it is thought to cause symptoms. After an agreed time (usually between 2 and 4 weeks), the food can be reintroduced gradually to verify whether it causes or exacerbates the symptoms.
A restricted or exclusion diet is when 1 or more foods suspected to cause symptoms are completely excluded for an agreed time before structured reintroduction. These diets may improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and can include, for example, a low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet. FODMAPs are a collection of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small bowel and pass into the large bowel where they are quickly broken down (fermented) by bacteria. This can cause bloating, wind, and discomfort or pain. FODMAPs can also draw water into the bowel, causing diarrhoea.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendation 1.2.1.8 and information for the public and expert opinion]

Equality and diversity considerations

Healthcare professionals should take into consideration the communication needs of people with irritable bowel syndrome, including cognitive impairment, when discussing and providing information on dietary management. All information should be culturally appropriate.

Reviewing treatment and management

This quality statement is taken from the irritable bowel syndrome in adults quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in irritable bowel syndrome in adults and should be read in full.

Quality statement

Adults with irritable bowel syndrome agree their follow-up with their healthcare professional.

Rationale

Regular review of treatment and management ensures that people with irritable bowel syndrome continue to be supported to manage their condition and to improve or maintain their quality of life. However, because self-management is the best approach for many people, the patients themselves should play a key role in determining when they need the review. The review, which may form part of an annual patient review, gives the opportunity for discussing and optimising medicines, lifestyle and diet, considering management alongside other related conditions, considering new treatments, and prompting further investigations or referrals if red flag indicators emerge.

Quality measures

Structure
a) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome agree their follow-up with their healthcare professional.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Evidence of local arrangements (for example through local protocols on appointment reminders) to ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome have follow-up as agreed with their healthcare professional.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
a) Proportion of adults with irritable bowel syndrome who agree their follow-up arrangements with their healthcare professional.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who agree their follow-up arrangements with their healthcare professional.
Denominator – the number of adults with irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Proportion of adults with irritable bowel syndrome whose follow-up takes place by the date agreed with their healthcare professional.
Numerator – the number in the denominator whose follow-up takes place by the date agreed.
Denominator – the number of adults with irritable bowel syndrome who have a follow-up date agreed with their healthcare professional.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcomes
a) People with irritable bowel syndrome feel confident to manage their condition.
Data source Local data collection.
b) Satisfaction with care received for irritable bowel syndrome.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (GP practices) ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome agree their follow-up with their healthcare professional. This can include the frequency and the format of the review; for example, it can be a face-to-face appointment or a telephone consultation. Adults with irritable bowel syndrome should be encouraged to make contact to arrange their follow-up appointments as part of the self-management of their symptoms.
Healthcare professionals in primary care (GPs) discuss the frequency and format of follow-up with adults with irritable bowel syndrome and agree with them how and when this will take place. The format can be a face-to-face appointment or, if appropriate, a telephone consultation. Healthcare professionals should encourage adults with irritable bowel syndrome to make contact to arrange their follow-up appointments as part of the self-management of their symptoms.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services that ensure that adults with irritable bowel syndrome can agree their follow-up with their healthcare professional.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Adults with irritable bowel syndrome agree how often they will see their healthcare professional to talk about their symptoms and their medications. They can agree whether the appointment will take place face-to-face or by telephone. They should be encouraged to make contact to arrange the appointments as part of the management of their own symptoms.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Follow-up
This is an opportunity for a person with irritable bowel syndrome to discuss their symptoms and how these are managed with their healthcare professional. This appointment can take place at a frequency agreed by the person and their healthcare professional, and can take the form that they feel is the most appropriate (such as attending the GP practice or a telephone conversation). Adults with irritable bowel syndrome should be encouraged to make contact to arrange the appointment because this will empower them to self-manage their symptoms.
[Adapted from Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61), recommendation 1.2.5.1 and expert opinion]

Equality and diversity considerations

Healthcare professionals should take into consideration the communication needs of people with irritable bowel syndrome, including cognitive impairment, when discussing and undertaking follow-up. For those people who are unable to arrange the follow-up appointments themselves, assistance should be provided to ensure their care continues appropriately.

Serological testing for coeliac disease

This quality statement is taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People at increased risk or with symptoms of coeliac disease are offered a serological test for coeliac disease.

Rationale

Coeliac disease is currently underdiagnosed. If coeliac disease is not recognised, there is a risk of complications, unnecessary investigations and a poor quality of life. Offering serological testing when there is a new diagnosis for a condition that increases the risk of having coeliac disease or at presentation of symptoms of coeliac disease will improve detection and diagnosis, thereby enabling people to begin treatment.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to undertake serological testing for people identified with increased risk or symptoms of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
a) Proportion of people at increased risk of coeliac disease who receive a serological test for coeliac disease.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who receive a serological test for coeliac disease.
Denominator – the number of people at increased risk of coeliac disease (people with type 1 diabetes or autoimmune thyroid disease at diagnosis, and first- degree relatives of people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease).
Data source: Local data collection. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health National Paediatric Diabetes Audit collects data on coeliac disease screening in children and young people with type 1 diabetes.
b) Proportion of people with symptoms of coeliac disease who receive a serological test for coeliac disease.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who receive a serological test for coeliac disease.
Denominator – the number of people who have symptoms of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection. To aid practicality of measurement, service providers and commissioners could focus on people presenting with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Outcome
Diagnosed prevalence of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (for example general practices, community healthcare providers and secondary care) ensure that they take a case-finding approach to identifying coeliac disease by offering a serological test to people at increased risk or with symptoms of coeliac disease. Providers should ensure that tests for coeliac disease are only carried out when a gluten-containing diet has been followed for at least 6 weeks.
Healthcare professionals (such as GPs and consultants) offer a serological test for coeliac disease to people at increased risk or with symptoms of coeliac disease, and ensure that people have been following a gluten-containing diet for at least 6 weeks before the test.
Commissioners (such as clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services that take a case-finding approach to identifying coeliac disease by offering a serological test to people at increased risk or with symptoms of coeliac disease; and ensure that they commission a pathology service that has access to the serological tests for coeliac disease.

What the quality statement means for patients and carers

People who may have, or who are at risk of developing, coeliac disease are offered a blood test to check for the disease. It is important to diagnose coeliac disease because it can cause long-term health problems if it is not treated. Before having the test, people need to follow a diet that includes foods that contain gluten for at least 6 weeks.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

People at increased risk or with symptoms of coeliac disease
A serological test for coeliac disease should be offered to:
  • people with any of the following:
    • persistent unexplained abdominal or gastrointestinal symptoms
    • faltering growth
    • prolonged fatigue
    • unexpected weight loss
    • severe or persistent mouth ulcers
    • unexplained iron, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency
    • type 1 diabetes, at diagnosis
    • autoimmune thyroid disease, at diagnosis
  • adults who meet the irritable bowel syndrome diagnostic criteria
  • first-degree relatives of people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendation 1.1.1 and Irritable bowel syndrome in adults (NICE guideline CG61) recommendation 1.1.2.1]
Serological test for coeliac disease
When healthcare professionals request serological tests to investigate suspected coeliac disease in children, young people and adults, laboratories should test for total immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgA tissue transglutaminase (tTG) as the first choice. In young people and adults, laboratories should use lgA endomysial antibodies (EMA) if lgA tTG is weakly positive and should consider using lgG EMA, lgG DGP or lgG tTG if lgA is deficient. A serological test for coeliac disease is only accurate if a gluten-containing diet has been followed for at least 6 weeks.
[Adapted from Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendations 1.1.3, 1.2.2 and 1.2.3]

Referral to a specialist

This quality statement is taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People with a positive serological test for coeliac disease are referred to a specialist and advised to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.

Rationale

As a positive serological result for coeliac disease is not sufficient to confirm diagnosis, people should be referred to a specialist for assessment and further investigation. Confirming diagnosis will ensure that people with coeliac disease can get support to help them manage their condition.

Quality measures

Structure
a) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease are referred to a specialist.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people referred to a specialist following a positive serological test for coeliac disease are advised to continue with a gluten containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
a) Proportion of people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease who are referred to a specialist.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who are referred to a specialist.
Denominator – the number of people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Proportion of people referred to a specialist following a positive serological test for coeliac disease who are advised to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who are advised to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.
Denominator – the number of people referred to a specialist following a positive serological test for coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
Diagnosed prevalence of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (for example general practices, community healthcare providers and secondary care) ensure that processes are in place for people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease to be referred to a specialist and advised to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.
Healthcare professionals (such as GPs and consultants) refer people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease to a specialist and advise them to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed.
Commissioners (such as clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services that refer people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease to a specialist and advise them to continue with a gluten-containing diet until diagnosis is confirmed. Commissioners also ensure that an effective specialist service for people with coeliac disease has capacity to meet expected demand.

What the quality statement means for patients and carers

People who have had a blood test that shows they might have coeliac disease should be referred to a specialist to have more tests to confirm whether or not they have coeliac disease. They should carry on eating foods containing gluten until they find out whether or not they have coeliac disease.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Positive serological test for coeliac disease
When healthcare professionals request serological tests to investigate suspected coeliac disease, laboratories should test for total immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgA tissue transglutaminase (tTG) as the first choice. A positive serological test result is defined as unambiguously positive IgA tTG alone, or weakly positive IgA tTG and positive IgA endomysial antibodies (EMA). In people who have IgA deficiency, a serologically positive result can be derived from any one of the IgG antibodies.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendations 1.2.2, 1.2.3 and 1.3.1]
Referral to a specialist
People aged 16 and over should be referred to a gastrointestinal specialist for endoscopic intestinal biopsy. Children and young people under 16 should be referred to a paediatric gastroenterologist or paediatrician with a specialist interest in gastroenterology for further investigation that may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
  • an endoscopic biopsy
  • an IgA EMA test to confirm serological positivity
  • human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genetic testing.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendations 1.3.1 and 1.3.2]
Gluten-containing diet
People who are following a normal diet (containing gluten) should be advised to eat gluten in more than 1 meal every day for at least 6 weeks before testing for coeliac disease.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendation 1.1.4]

Endoscopic intestinal biopsy

This quality statement is taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People referred to a specialist who need an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease have it within 6 weeks of referral.

Rationale

A long wait for an endoscopic intestinal biopsy can mean that some people will start a gluten-free diet to relieve symptoms and will therefore not be able to complete the diagnosis process. Limiting the time that people need to continue with a gluten-containing diet to 6 weeks or less will encourage more people to complete the diagnosis process and enable them to get the support they need.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local processes to ensure that people referred to a specialist who need an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease have it within 6 weeks of referral.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
a) Proportion of people referred to a specialist who need an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease who have it within 6 weeks of referral.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who have an endoscopic intestinal biopsy within 6 weeks of referral.
Denominator – the number of people referred to a specialist who need an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Proportion of people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease who complete the diagnosis process.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who complete the diagnosis process.
Denominator – the number of people with a positive serological test for coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
Diagnosed prevalence of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals, and commissioners

Service providers (secondary care) ensure that people referred to a specialist who need an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease have it within 6 weeks of referral.
Healthcare professionals (such as gastroenterologists and paediatricians) carry out an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease within 6 weeks of referral.
Commissioners (clinical commissioning groups) commission services with sufficient capacity to carry out an endoscopic intestinal biopsy to diagnose coeliac disease within 6 weeks of referral to a specialist.

What the quality statement means for patients and carers

People who have had a blood test that shows they might have coeliac disease may need a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. The biopsy should be carried out within 6 weeks of the referral. They will need to carry on eating foods containing gluten until they have had the biopsy.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Referral to a specialist
People aged 16 and over should be referred to a gastrointestinal specialist. Children and young people under 16 should be referred to a paediatric gastroenterologist or paediatrician with a specialist interest in gastroenterology.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendations 1.3.1 and 1.3.2]

Advice about a gluten-free diet

This quality statement is taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People newly diagnosed with coeliac disease discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease.

Rationale

A gluten-free diet is the main treatment for coeliac disease. If people with coeliac disease do not follow a gluten-free diet they may experience continuing ill health and be at risk of serious long-term complications. Personalised information and advice about a gluten-free diet from a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease will help people to understand and self-manage their condition.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease discuss how to follow a gluten free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
Proportion of people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease who discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease.
Denominator – the number of people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
a) Satisfaction among people with coeliac disease that they are supported to manage their condition.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Health-related quality of life for people with coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (for example general practices, community healthcare providers and secondary care) ensure that processes are in place for people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease to discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease, such as a dietitian.
Healthcare professionals (such as consultants or GPs) ensure that people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease, such as a dietitian.
Commissioners (such as clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services that ensure that people newly diagnosed with coeliac disease discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease, such as a dietitian, and that services have sufficient capacity to meet demand.

What the quality statement means for patients and carers

People who have coeliac disease and their carers (if appropriate) discuss how to follow a gluten-free diet with a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge of coeliac disease, such as a dietitian.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Discussion about how to follow a gluten-free diet
Healthcare professionals should tell people about the importance of a gluten-free diet and give them information to help them follow it, including:
  • information on which types of food contain gluten and suitable alternatives, including gluten-free substitutes
  • information on which types of food are naturally gluten-free
  • explanations of food labelling
  • information sources about gluten-free diets, recipe ideas and cookbooks
  • how to manage social situations, eating out and travelling away from home, including travel abroad
  • avoiding cross contamination in the home and minimising the risk of accidental gluten intake when eating out
  • the role of national and local coeliac support groups.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendation 1.6.3 and expert opinion]

Equality and diversity considerations

Gluten-free products are more expensive and are usually only available from larger retailers, making access more difficult for people on low incomes or with limited mobility. As coeliac disease can affect more than one member of a family it can also be an additional burden on the family budget. To address this, healthcare professionals should help people who may need support to find suitable gluten-free food products on prescription to enable them to maintain a gluten-free diet.

Annual review

This quality statement is taken from the coeliac disease quality standard. The quality standard defines clinical best practice in coeliac disease and should be read in full.

Quality statement

People with coeliac disease are offered an annual review.

Rationale

An annual review should be offered to people with coeliac disease so that adherence to a gluten-free diet and symptoms can be reviewed, information and advice about the condition and diet can be refreshed, and any further support needs can be identified. Annual reviews for children with coeliac disease also allow any impact on development to be assessed. Annual reviews provide the opportunity to identify people with refractory coeliac disease that does not improve with a gluten-free diet and to monitor any emerging long-term complications of coeliac disease.

Quality measures

Structure
Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that people with coeliac disease are offered an annual review.
Data source: Local data collection.
Process
Proportion of people diagnosed with coeliac disease for more than 12 months who received an annual review in the previous 12 months.
Numerator – the number in the denominator who received an annual review in the previous 12 months.
Denominator – the number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease for more than 12 months.
Data source: Local data collection.
Outcome
a) Health-related quality of life for people with coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.
b) Identification of complications associated with coeliac disease.
Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare professionals and commissioners

Service providers (such as general practices, community healthcare providers and secondary care) ensure that people with coeliac disease, including those discharged from secondary care, are offered an annual review and are given information about why they may need a review to encourage attendance. Service providers should consider innovative approaches to undertake reviews, including using technology to improve access to specialist advice.
Healthcare professionals (for example, dietitians, consultants, and GPs) offer an annual review to people with coeliac disease, including those discharged from secondary care, and encourage them to attend by giving them information about why they may need a review.
Commissioners (for example, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) ensure that they commission services that offer an annual review to people with coeliac disease, including those discharged from secondary care. Commissioners encourage service providers to use innovative approaches to undertake reviews, including using technology to improve access to specialist advice.

What the quality statement means for patients and carers

People who have coeliac disease have a check-up once a year to check their symptoms and diet, and to find out whether they need further advice or assessment.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Annual review
An annual review for people with coeliac disease should include:
  • measuring weight and height
  • review of symptoms
  • considering the need for assessment of diet and adherence to the gluten free diet
  • considering the need for specialist dietetic and nutritional advice
  • considering the need for referral to a GP or consultant to address any concerns about possible complications or comorbidities.
[Coeliac disease (NICE guideline NG20) recommendations 1.4.3 and 1.4.4]

Equality and diversity considerations

People living in socioeconomically deprived areas are less likely to attend an annual review. Healthcare professionals in these areas should therefore agree a local approach to encourage as many people as possible to attend.

Effective interventions library

Effective interventions library

Successful effective interventions library details

Implementation

Information for the public

NICE produces information for the public that summarises, in plain English, the recommendations that NICE makes to healthcare and other professionals.
NICE has written information for the public explaining its guidance on each of the following topics.

Pathway information

Important information about diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome

Confirming a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is crucial. The primary aim should be to establish the person's symptom profile, with abdominal pain or discomfort being a key symptom. It is also necessary to establish the quantity and quality of the pain or discomfort, and to identify its site (which can be anywhere in the abdomen) and whether this varies. This distinguishes irritable bowel syndrome from cancer-related pain, which typically has a fixed site.
When establishing bowel habit, showing people the Bristol stool form scale may help them with description, particularly when determining quality and quantity of stool. People presenting with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms commonly report incomplete evacuation/rectal hypersensitivity, as well as urgency, which is increased in diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. About 20% of people experiencing faecal incontinence disclose their incontinence only if asked. People who present with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome should be asked open questions to establish the presence of such symptoms (for example, 'tell me about how your symptoms affect aspects of your daily life, such as leaving the house'). Healthcare professionals should be sensitive to the cultural, ethnic and communication needs of people for whom English is not a first language or who may have cognitive and/or behavioural problems or disabilities. These factors should be taken into consideration to facilitate effective consultation.

Professional responsibilities

The recommendations in this pathway represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take these recommendations fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. Applying the recommendations in this pathway is at the discretion of health and care professionals and their individual patients or service users and does not override the responsibility of health and care professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and/or their carer or guardian.
Commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the recommendations to be applied (and to provide funding required for technology appraisal guidance) when individual health and care professionals and their patients or service users wish to use them. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this pathway should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Person-centred care

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in your care.
Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

Supporting information

Glossary

cognitive behavioural therapy
C-reactive protein
endomysial antibodies
erythrocyte sedimentation rate
full blood count
fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
tricyclic antidepressants
tissue transglutaminase

Paths in this pathway

Pathway created: October 2012 Last updated: October 2016

© NICE 2016

Recently viewed