Background: Coeliac disease is increasingly diagnosed in adult patients who present with atypical symptoms or who are asymptomatic and detected by case screening. Its treatment, a gluten-free diet, can have a considerable impact on daily living. Understanding the factors associated with non-adherence is important in terms of supporting patients with their condition.
Aim: To investigate factors associated with adherence to a gluten-free diet in adults with coeliac disease.
Methods: A literature search of multiple electronic databases using a pre-determined search string for literature between 1980 and November 2007 identified a possible 611 hits. After checking for relevance, 38 studies were included in this review.
Results: Rates for strict adherence range from 42% to 91% depending on definition and method of assessment and are the lowest among ethnic minorities and those diagnosed in childhood. Adherence is most strongly associated with cognitive, emotional and socio-cultural influences, membership of an advocacy group and regular dietetic follow-up. Screen and symptom-detected coeliac patients do not differ in their adherence to a gluten-free diet.
Conclusions: The existing evidence for factors associated with non-adherence to a gluten-free diet is of variable quality. Further and more rigorous research is needed to characterize those individuals most likely to be non-adherent to assist them better with their treatment.