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Differences in self-reported habit between individuals who do and do not strictly adhere to the gluten free diet
Emily Kothe1 & Barbara Mullan2
1School of Psychology, Deakin University, Australia
2School of Psychology, Curtin University, Australia
Introduction. Previous research has indicated that many individuals with coeliac disease fail to strictly adhere to the diet. The current study investigated differences in self-reported habit between individuals who do and do not adhere to the diet in order to better understand this phenomenon.
Methods. Individuals with biopsy confirmed coeliac disease who reported that they did not voluntarily recruit gluten were recruited from the Coeliac Society of Victoria and Tasmania. Participants completed a validated self-report measure of gluten-free diet adherence (CDAT) and the self-report habit index (SRHI).
Results. One hundred and thirty six individuals completed the study. Seventeen percent of individuals were not strictly adherent to the gluten free diet. Total score on the SRHI was a significant predictor of whether or not individuals were strictly adherent. Strictly adherent individuals were more likely to report that they followed the diet without thinking and did it without having to remember. The length of time the individual had been following the diet was also a predictor of strict adherence.
Conclusions. Findings suggest that habit may be an important factor for determining whether or not individuals with coeliac disease are strictly adherent to the gluten free diet. The relationship between indicators of automaticity and strict adherence suggests that interventions to strengthen habit formation may be useful in this context. The relationship between length of time since diagnosis and strict adherence indicates that recently diagnosed individuals may require more support for following the diet.