Perceived barriers to gluten-free diet adherence by people with celiac disease in Greece

Authors Eirini Bathrellou, Aliki Georgopoulou, Meropi Kontogianni.


Background In people with celiac disease (CD), many factors affect adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD), and these may well differ among countries. In Greece, such data for the adult population are lacking. Thus, the present study aimed to explore the perceived barriers to compliance with a GFD that are faced by people with CD living in Greece, also taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods Nineteen adults (14 females) with biopsy-proven CD, mean age 39±9 years and median time on GFD 7 (Q1-Q3: 4-10) years, participated in 4 focus groups, conducted through a video conference platform during the period October 2020 to March 2021. Data analysis followed the qualitative research methodology.

Results Eating outside the home was reported as the domain where most difficulties were faced: these were related to a lack of confidence in finding safe gluten-free food and to the lack of social awareness about CD/GFD. All participants highlighted the high cost of gluten-free products, which was mostly managed by receiving state financial support. Regarding healthcare, the vast majority of participants reported little contact with dietitians and no follow up. The COVID-19 pandemic eased the burden of eating out, as staying at home and allocating more time to cooking was experienced as a positive effect, although the shift to online food retailing impacted food variability.

Conclusion The main impediment to GFD adherence seems to stem from low social awareness, while the involvement of dietitians in the healthcare of people with CD warrants further investigation.

Keywords Gluten-free diet, barriers, adherence, COVID-19, focus groups

Ann Gastroenterol 2023; 36 (3): 287-292

Original Articles