Objective: To assess the influence of gluten-free diet (GFD) compliance on the quality of life (QOL) of adolescents with coeliac disease (CD), and the impact of patient's age at time of diagnosis.
Study design: Participants included 365 subjects: 283 adolescents (10-20 years old) with biopsy-proven CD and 82 adolescents without a chronic condition matched for age, sex, education, and social status. Their subjective QOL-comprising physical, mental, and social dimensions as defined by the World Health Organization-was measured and has been analyzed according to compliance status and age at CD diagnosis.
Results: Adolescents noncompliant with GFD reported a lower general QOL, more physical problems, a higher burden of illness, more family problems, and more problems in leisure time than adolescents who are compliant with GFD. More frequent GFD transgressions were associated with poorer QOL. Higher problem anticipation and higher feelings of "ill-being" were found in the noncompliant group. No differences between compliant patients with CD and adolescents without any chronic condition were found in all QOL aspects. Adolescents with a late CD diagnosis showed more problems at school and in social contact with peers, as well as worse physical health and higher CD-associated burden.
Conclusions: Compliance with GFD is an essential factor to obtain optimal QOL. Psychosocial and educational support should be provided for patients having difficulties strictly adhering to GFD. Early CD onset and diagnosis is associated with better physical health, lower CD-associated burden and fewer social problems, indicating the importance of the earliest CD diagnosis possible.