When celiac disease patients report increased symptoms and lower quality of life, their romantic partners also experience increased burden and relationship strain.
In the first study to look at the burden placed on partners of celiac disease patients, researchers from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York found that when celiac disease patients report increased symptoms and lower quality of life, their partners also experience increased burden and relationship strain. In addition to a patient’s symptoms, the partner’s rating of relationship quality and sexual satisfaction predicted whether that partner felt burdened by the patient’s celiac disease; partners who reported lower relationship quality and lower sexual satisfaction were likely to feel a greater caregiving burden. Surprisingly, partners in longer relationships (of over 10 years) were also significantly more likely to experience a mild to moderate caregiving burden, a finding that researchers tied to partners’ increased fears about how the disease would affect the patients in the future.
Because the partners of celiac disease patients in both shorter- and longer-term relationships experience an emotional caregiving burden, it is vital that celiac disease patients and their doctors educate partners about the disease and gluten-free diet, as well as include partners in medical counseling and treatment decisions.
Beyond Celiac recognizes that celiac disease and its treatment impacts every part of a patient’s life, and we commend the research team for exploring this unique area affecting all patients and their families. We also congratulate Dr. Abhik Roy, the lead author on this study, for his Young Investigator award from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
Read the abstract of “Partner Burden: A Common Entity in Celiac Disease” here.