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  1. Turnbough, Lisa ADN, RN
  2. Wilson, Lindsay MSN, RN, CPNP


Ulcerative colitis is a lifelong disease causing inflammation and ulceration of the colon. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, bloating, and fecal urgency. The current standard therapy for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis is the use of 5-aminosalicylates, with patients requiring continuous treatment to maintain remission. A substantial proportion of patients, however, are nonadherent to prescribed 5-aminosalicylate treatment regimens, resulting in a greater chance of disease relapse with severe associated symptoms.


There are many reasons why a patient with ulcerative colitis may be nonadherent including the patient's perception of the condition or a lack of understanding about the disease or treatment. Multiple daily dosing or rectal administration of 5-aminosalicylate medications also can adversely affect adherence rates.


Because gastrointestinal nurses often are the primary points of contact for patients with ulcerative colitis, they are in a unique position to take simple steps that will improve adherence rates and thus increase the efficacy of prescribed therapy. This article highlights important aspects of education and patient care for patients with ulcerative colitis.