Insight in the diagnosis and treatment of coeliac disease in general practice: A survey and case vignette study among 106 general practitioners

M.D. Rouvroye*, P. Slottje, T. van Gils, C.J. Mulder, J.W. Muris, D. Walstock, M. Reinders, G. Bouma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Coeliac disease (CD) is a highly prevalent (similar to 1%) disease that allegedly remains undiagnosed in over 80% of the cases because of atypical symptoms or silent disease. Currently, it is unknown how GPs deal with (suspected) CD. Objectives This study aimed to better understand the diagnostic approach and the clinical reasoning process of GPs concerning CD and concurrently address diagnostic pitfalls. Methods A questionnaire with case vignettes to assess the knowledge, diagnostic reasoning pattern and practice for CD by GPs was developed. It was sent through academic GP research networks (encompassing over 1500 GPs) in two large cities and to smaller practices in rural areas. The questionnaire was composed of seven background questions, 13 questions related to four case vignettes and six additional CD-related questions Results Responses were received from 106 GPs. Knowledge on risk factors for CD and appropriate testing of at-risk populations was limited. Twenty-two percent would diagnose CD in adults exclusively based on serology, without histopathological confirmation. In total, 99% would refer a newly diagnosed patient to a dietitian to initiate a gluten-free diet (GFD). In the absence of symptoms, only 33% would initiate a GFD. Conclusion The results of this study have given us insight into the diagnostic process of GPs encountering patient with gluten-related complaints. Multiple serology test is available and used, while a positive serology test is not always followed up by a gastroduodenal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Most GPs would refer a symptomatic CD patient to a dietician for a GFD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of General Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Coeliac disease
  • gluten
  • diet
  • general practice
  • questionnaires and surveys
  • RISK
  • CARE


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