Celiac.com 01/11/2012 - In an effort to understand how delayed celiac disease diagnosis became the norm for most patients over the last few decades, a research team conducted a study to assess the issue. Their study also looked at how delayed diagnosis affects health-related quality of life (HRQoL) for those with celiac disease, and considered differences with respect to sex and age.

Photo: CC--MPClemensFor the study, the team collaborated with the Swedish Society for Coeliacs to send a questionnaire to 1,560 randomly-chosen members, divided equally by age and sex. A total of 1,031 members (66%) responded. The team first measured HRQoL using the EQ-5D descriptive system, then translated the results to quality-adjusted life year (QALY) scores.

The team then compared the results against the results from a survey of the general population. There was some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that, while the average QALY score during the year before treatment was 0.66, it improved after diagnosis and treatment to 0.86, which is  better than that the score of 0.79 for the general population.

The bad news is that they found the average person with celiac disease faced a delay in diagnosis of 9.7 years from the first symptoms, and 5.8 years from the first doctor visit.

The team concede that the delay has been reduced over time for some age groups, but contend that it still remains unacceptably long for large numbers of people.

Untreated celiac disease results in poor HRQoL, which improves or exceeds that of  the general population if diagnosed and treated. Reducing the delay in diagnosing celiac disease will go a long way toward reducing the burden of celiac disease.

To do so, they say it is necessary to raise awareness of celiac disease as a common health problem, and to intensify diagnosis practices. This may, the note, make mass-screening for celiac disease an desirable option in the future.

Authors: Fredrik Norstrom, Lars Lindholm, Olof Sandstrom, Katrina Nordyke, Anneli Ivarsson

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