Aim: To examine treatment decisions of gastroenterologists regarding the choice of prescribing 5-aminosalycilates (5ASA) with corticosteroids (CS) versus corticosteroids alone for patients with active ulcerative colitis (UC). Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire exploring physicians' attitude toward 5ASA + CS combination therapy vs CS alone was developed and validated. The questionnaire was distributed to gastroenterology experts in twelve countries in five continents. Respondents' agreement with stated treatment choices were assessed by standardized Likert scale. Background professional characteristics of respondents were analyzed for correlation with responses. Results: Six hundred and sixty-four questionnaires were distributed and 349 received (52.6% response rate). Of 340 eligible respondents, 221 (65%) would continue 5ASA in a patient hospitalized for intravenous CS treatment due to a moderate-severe UC flare, while 108 (32%) would stop the 5ASA (P < 0.001), and 11 (3%) are undecided. Similarly, 62% would continue 5ASA in an out-patient starting oral CS. However, only 140/340 (41%) would proactively start 5ASA in a hospitalized patient not receiving 5ASA before admission. Most (94%) physicians consider the safety profile of 5ASA as very good. Only 52% consider them inexpensive, 35% perceive them to be expensive and 12% are undecided. On multi-variable analysis, less years of practice and perception of a plausible additive mechanistic effect of 5ASA + CS were positively associated with the decision to continue 5ASA with CS. Conclusion: Despite the absence of data supporting its benefit, most gastroenterologists endorse combination of 5ASA + CS for patients with active moderate-to-severe UC. Randomized controlled trials are needed to assess if 5ASA confer any benefit for these patients.
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