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  1. Wilson, Joanne MBA, BSMT, CCRC


Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, often associated with abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, fatigue, and poor quality of life. Although 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) preparations are the mainstay of treatment of this condition, the observed efficacy of many current formulations is limited by delivery systems that require multiple-daily dosing schedules and are associated with poor patient adherence. It is of critical importance that patients adhere to medication regimens, because failure to do so has been shown to result in a greater number of disease flares and an increased risk of complications, including colorectal cancer. Patient-friendly formulations of 5-ASA have recently been approved or are in development to overcome the limitations of many older formulations and improve remission rates. As a major point of contact for many patients with ulcerative colitis, it is essential that gastrointestinal nurses keep abreast of such relevant developments in treatment options. Indeed, nurses are a crucial educational conduit for patients and are in a unique position to serve as trusted educators on important issues. This review provides an update on recent advances in 5-ASA therapy to ensure that gastrointestinal nurses are aware of potential strategies for improving clinical outcomes of patients with ulcerative colitis.