one in ten adult Americans is affected by peptic
ulcer disease, exacting a heavy burden in health care related costs
– an estimated $6 billion each year – in addition to much personal illness
and pain. Until recently, ulcer disease was thought to be a chronic
condition caused by stress or diet and often had to be endured for many
years. Symptoms could be eased with acid reducing medications but
recurrence rates were high, creating a frustrating cycle of pain, relief
and relapse for many patients.
now know that nine of every ten ulcers are caused by an infectious bacterium,
(H. pylori), and can be cured with antibiotics. Antibiotic
therapy represents a dramatic medical advance in the treatment of ulcer
disease because there is a better than 90 percent chance that the ulcer
will be gone for good.
the old beliefs still persist. CDC research shows that 75 percent
of Americans are still unaware that most ulcers are caused by an infection,
and thousands of ulcer patients continue to suffer unnecessarily.
Your assistance in spreading this important news throughout your community
can help change the perception of ulcer disease and encourage patients
to talk to a health professional about a cure – and an end to their pain.
The Goals of Ulcer Awareness
- To increase awareness that nine of every 10
peptic ulcers are actually caused by an infection that can be cured,
- To encourage ulcer patients to seek professional
help in the diagnosis, treatment and cure for their ulcer.
order to effectively influence behavior, we first need to understand the
attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of ulcer sufferers. The most
common misperceptions are that stress and spicy foods cause ulcers.
Nearly 60 percent of consumers, in a 1997 survey, still believed that
ulcers are caused by too much stress, and 17 percent thought eating spicy
foods was the cause.
having become adept at symptom maintenance over the years, many ulcer
sufferers are skeptical about a permanent cure for their ulcer.
Many ulcer sufferers self-diagnose and self-treat with over-the-counter
(OTC) products and have done so for years. Changing such long-held
misperceptions and practices will require a combination of education and
intervention at the local and national levels. In order for people
to become more aware of the ulcer/infection link, they need to hear it
from many sources and have it reinforced by reassurances from trusted
sources, to affect behavior change. This is the impetus for Ulcer
importantly, we need to raise awareness among patients and consumers that
nine of every 10 peptic ulcers are actually caused by an infection that
is curable! This information can encourage ulcer patients to seek
professional help in the diagnosis, treatment and cure for their ulcer.
The primary audiences for the ulcer message are consumers who fall in
the following categories:
complement this effort, it is important that health professionals be encouraged
to communicate with their patients about the relationship between H.
pylori and peptic ulcer disease.
Ulcer Awareness Week is the perfect time to heighten awareness of peptic
ulcer disease among health professional groups such as:
- Health Care Consumers
- Long term sufferers who are more than 60 years
- People with a recent onset of symptoms, normally
after age 35
- Minority populations
- General population that continues to hold misperceptions
about ulcer cause
- Primary care physicians
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants
- Directors of managed care organizations