A recently published Australian study reports that an online program like GlutenFreedomProject.com can help people with celiac disease improve adherance to a gluten-free diet.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Sydney, the study randomly divided 189 adults – all who had biopsy-confirmed celiac disease – into two groups. The first group was given access to online education modules designed to improve understanding of a gluten-free diet. Members of the second group did not utilize the online program.
Participants were not new to the gluten-free lifestyle – they had been avoiding gluten for an average of 4.6 years. Before testing began, both groups were given an initial “Dietary Adherence Test” to determine how well they complied with a gluten-free diet. This baseline showed that 41percent of subjects had either moderate or poor adherence to a gluten-free diet before the online intervention was initiated.
The online education program included six, 30-minute modules which were sent to test-group participants each week. General information about celiac disease was included, but the primary focus was on adherence techniques.
After participating in the online program, researchers again asked participants in both groups to report on how well they adhered to a gluten-free diet. Those who accessed the online information showed improvement to both eating and understanding a gluten-free diet.
Statistically, 65.4 percent of the test-group participants improved adherence while only 37.9 percent of the control group indicated improvement. Study participants were polled again three months following exposure to the online educational modules, but adherence improvement at that point was not statistically significant.
However, the study results clearly show that online support and education is vital to people struggling to maintain a gluten-free diet.
One of the researchers, Kirby Sainsbury, BA/Bed, said this is the first study assessed how gluten-free compliance can be impacted by online behavior-modification techniques.
“When combined with the online format of the program (which was well received), these results suggest that the dissemination of this evidence-based resource to individuals with celiac disease who are struggling to achieve or maintain adherence is likely to lead to meaningful improvements in adherence,” he said.