#InTheirShoes Campaign Lets Healthy Canadians Experience What It’s Like Living with IBD

#InTheirShoes Campaign Lets Healthy Canadians Experience What It’s Like Living with IBD

Fifteen Canadians with connections to inflammatory bowel disease marked Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month by taking part in a two-day simulation of what it’s like to live with IBD.

The campaign, which involved overcoming challenges patients face, was especially relevant to Canada because it has one of the world’s highest rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda, which develops IBD therapies, rolled out the #InTheirShoes project. The 15 Canadians took part in the global campaign in November.

“Takeda is committed to putting the patient at the center of everything we do, and with this program we are allowing more people, including our own employees, to understand as much as possible what the life of a person with IBD can be like,” Chatrick Paul, the company’s general manager, said in a press release. “It’s one thing to understand a condition from hearing or reading about it, but to actually live the things patients who take medicines like ours go through on an hourly basis, even for a brief period, gives a much deeper understanding.”

Patients, IBD experts and healthcare professionals helped design the simulation. The goal was to take participants on a journey into the physical and emotional struggles of managing the condition.

The program included role-playing exercises sent to participants’ cellphones. Participants received instructions to do something a patient would do, such as having to find a restroom immediately, changing their plans because of a disease flare-up, or having to take a sudden call from their doctor’s office.

These exercises transformed participants’ general knowledge of IBD into a real-life picture of a patient’s experience. The challenge was designed to create an emotional connection with the disease to help patients do a better job of interacting with patients in the future.

“#InTheirShoes gave us a deeper understanding of the associated emotional and physical challenges resulting from these diseases,” said Mina Mawani, president and chief executive officer of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, who took part in the simulation with seven other employees. “The experience was very realistic and revealing for me in terms of how disruptive Crohn’s and colitis can be to your day-to-day activities. The suddenness of having to deal with a symptom or other aspect of the disease was quite unsettling.”

“I’m glad to have had the opportunity to walk a mile in a patient’s shoes,” said Philip Clarke, specialty sales manager at Takeda Canada, who also took part. “It was a very challenging but helpful experience that gives me a unique perspective. Simulating living with IBD allowed me to learn firsthand the profound impact IBD can have on day-to-day life and what patients live through on an ongoing basis.”

In addition to the Takeda Canada employees, participants included a nurse practitioner, employees of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada and several people whose friends include families living with IBD.