Hesitation with dating, greater social anxiety among individuals with Celiac disease
In a recent survey, most participants reported that Celiac disease had a major/moderate impact on their dating life, according to a presentation from Digestive Disease Week.
“Our recent research indicates that many adults with Celiac disease have increased social anxiety, which negatively impacts their quality of life, eating patterns and ability to socialize,” Anne R. Lee, EdD, RDN, LD, and Jessica Lebovitz, RD, CDN, CNSC, told Healio Gastroenterology. “Those in the 23 to 35 year age group had significantly lower quality of life scores and higher social anxiety scores compared to those over 65 years of age. In fact, 48.4% of participants reported being hesitant to go on dates because of their Celiac disease. Additionally, 39% of participants were hesitant to kiss due to their Celiac disease.”
Lebovitz, Lee — both from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center — and colleagues emailed 13,495 affiliates of the institution asking them to participate in a survey. Inclusion criteria was age 18 years or older, self-reported biopsy-proven Celiac disease and following a gluten free diet. Overall, 5,249 affiliates opened the email, and of these 783 participants started, 644 partially completed and 538 fully completed the survey and 139 did not meet inclusion criteria.
The survey included a social behavior questionnaire on Celiac disease-specific dating attitudes, behaviors and preferences, a social anxiety questionnaire, a Celiac disease-specific quality of life instrument and a Celiac disease food attitudes and behaviors scale.
Among those with Celiac disease who dated, 68% reported it had a major/moderate impact on their dating life. Participants who reported a major/moderate impact, compared with those with no major impact, were more likely to have an annual household income less than $50,000 (26% vs. 13%; P = .019), more hesitant to go on dates because of Celiac disease (63% vs. 16%; P < .001), and had lower Celiac disease quality of life scores (60.3 vs. 77.7; P = .015).
Survey results showed 39% of participants were uncomfortable while on dates explaining precaution to waiters. Further, 28% of participants engaged in riskier eating behaviors and 8% purposely consumed gluten. The overall dating experience with Celiac disease was not enjoyable according to 19% of participants. The rate was higher among participants who said they brought their own food on a date (40% vs. 14%; P < .001), owned a Nima sensor (42% vs. 17%; P = .016), were uncomfortable explaining precautions in front of their date (28% vs. 12%; P = .003), and engaged in riskier eating behaviors while on a date (30% vs. 14%; P = .009).
According to researchers, 39% of participants hesitated to kiss their partner due to Celiac disease; women were more hesitant than men (45.2% vs. 13.9%; P < .001). Hesitant-to-kiss participants had higher social anxiety questionnaire scores (84.5 vs. 76.0; P = .021) and higher Celiac disease-food attitudes and behavior scale scores (50.5 vs. 37.0; P = .003) than non-hesitant participants.