Psychological dimensions of celiac disease: toward an integrated approach

Dig Dis Sci. 2002 Sep;47(9):2082-7. doi: 10.1023/a:1019637315763.


Psychic alterations have been reported in celiac disease. Our aim was to evaluate the emotional impact of celiac disease diagnosis in adulthood, the patient/doctor relationship, and the patients' cooperation with disease treatment and diet. The patients were 114 adult celiac patients on a gluten-free diet, there were 25 untreated celiac patients. Self-administered questionnaires aimed to evaluate the patients' level of knowledge of disease, the emotional impact at diagnosis, and feelings during follow-up. Celiac patients showed good knowledge of the disease, directly correlated to their socioeconomic level (P = 0.011). At diagnosis, relief was most intense feeling (Mean +/- SD, 10.82 +/- 7.63), demographics, time latency of diagnosis, and the duration of the disease had no effect on the intensity of all feelings. The scores of the self-rated emotions were entered into a principal component analysis that generated three factors: 1 (fear, anger, anxiety and sadness), 2 (reassurance and resignation), and 3 (relief); patients judged the clinicians presenting the disease "in the right way" (F = 33.279; P < 0.0001). The right way correlated with relief and reassurance (P = 0.0009; P = 0.0008 respectively). At follow-up, anger was the predominant emotion that induced patients to transgress. A positive correlation was observed between feeling different and the sadness, anger, fear (P < 0.0001 for all). Anger was inversely correlated with actual compliance to diet (P = 0.0005). In conclusion, in adult patients, adaptive and psychological aspects must be taken into account to understand the celiac patient and for better clinical management.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires