Long-Term Management of Patients with Celiac Disease: Current Practices of Gastroenterologists in Canada
BACKGROUND: Long-term follow-up of patients with celiac disease is important for monitoring their clinical status, dietary compliance and complications.AIM: To examine the current practices of Canadian gastroenterologists providing long-term care to patients with celiac disease.METHODS: All gastroenterologists in Canada (n=585) were surveyed regarding their practice demographics, familiarity with celiac disease practice guidelines, and follow-up clinical examination and investigations.RESULTS: Of the 585 surveys mailed to gastroenterologists, 567 were expected to be returned. A total of 242 completed surveys (43%) were received. Of these, 237 (184 adult, 51 pediatric and two mixed) had an active practice that included patients with celiac disease. Long-term follow-up care was provided routinely by 76% of respondents. Follow-up consisted of annual clinic visits (67%), dietary review (77%), reinforcement of the need for adherence to a gluten-free diet (90%) and recommending membership in an advocacy group (65%). Physical examination was performed by 78%; most ordered laboratory tests including serology (65%).Adult gastroenterologists performed routine follow-up intestinal biopsy more often than their pediatric counterparts (46% versus 10%), but performed serology less frequently (48% versus 86%). Pediatric patients were more likely to be followed by a multidisciplinary team. All pediatric gastroenterologists were familiar with at least one celiac disease practice guideline, whereas 15% of adult gastroenterologists were not familiar with any practice guideline. The majority of gastroenterologists who did not routinely provide follow-up expected care to be provided by the patient’s primary physician (86%).CONCLUSIONS: Most gastroenterologists in Canada who responded to the survey provided long-term follow-up care to patients with celiac disease. The diverse practices reported underscore the need to develop consensus-based guidelines for long-term care of these patients.