The long-term objectives of this project are to advance the understanding of the pathophysiology and management of Barrett's esophagus, and to achieve further formal training in epidemiology and outcomes research for the applicant. Dr. Shaheen, the applicant, is an Assistant Professor at UNC and is Co-Director of the Center for Esophageal Diseases. His mentor, Dr. Robert Sandler, is an established GI epidemiologist, and Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease (CGIBD). They propose a combined didactic and clinical research experience, utilizing the resources of the UNC School of Public Health, the GI Division and the CGIBD to foster Dr. Shaheen's demonstrated interest in outcomes research. Dr. Dawn Provenzale from Duke University will also provide instruction and mentoring, as well as expertise in the subject area, Barrett's esophagus. The study proposed as part of the clinical training is a case-control study of Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a pre-malignant lesion of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a usually lethal cancer whose incidence is increasing in epidemic proportions. Barrett's is associated with gastroesophageal reflux. Because we cannot adequately stratify risk for Barrett's among those with reflux, authorities recommend that all those with chronic reflux undergo endoscopic screening for Barrett's. Better stratification of Barrett's risk would allow for more targeted usage of screening endoscopy.
The specific aims of this study are: 1) To evaluate the relationship between obesity and Barrett's, 2) To assess the role of H. pylori infection and Barrett's, 3) To assess the predictors for dysplasia among those with Barrett's, and, 4) To assess the quality of life of those with Barrett's compared to controls with reflux. The study will recruit 175 cases with reflux symptoms and Barrett's esophagus, and 350 controls with reflux symptoms and no Barrett's who present for endoscopy at UNC. Participants will complete a telephone interview assessing demographics, health habits, risk factors for early H. pylori acquisition, and reflux symptoms. Also, subjects will be administered a measure of quality of life, the Health Status Questionnaire, and a psychological profile, the Revised Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Subjects will undergo assessment of height, weight, hip and waist circumference. Data analysis will compare body mass and fat distribution, as well as risk factors for early H. pylori acquisition, between cases and controls. Subjects with Barrett's and dysplasia will be compared to those with Barrett's alone to assess for risk factors for dysplasia. Finally, by comparing subjects with Barrett's to controls with reflux, and controlling for severs of reflux, the impact of a Barrett's diagnosis on quality of life and psychological stress may be seen.
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