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Coeliac Disease in Later Life: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

1School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

2Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK

International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2017, Vol. 5 No. 4, 140-149
DOI: 10.12691/ijcd-5-4-2
Copyright © 2017 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Tom Price, Ruth Howard. Coeliac Disease in Later Life: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. International Journal of Celiac Disease. 2017; 5(4):140-149. doi: 10.12691/ijcd-5-4-2.

Correspondence to: Ruth  Howard, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. Email:


Coeliac Disease (CD) is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by heightened immunological response to the digestion of gluten in genetically susceptible individuals. Previous research suggests that being diagnosed with a chronic health condition may present psychosocial challenges. We aimed to investigate the lived experience related to a diagnosis of CD later in life, and to better understand issues that may be specific to older individuals. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five people diagnosed with CD after the age of 60 (mean age: 68 years; mean age at diagnosis: 66 years; 60% sample female; 40% male). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and then analyzed qualitatively using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). A psychosocial model was constructed from the findings, which encompasses shared experiences considered to be older adult specific. This model comprises several insights associated with the diagnostic process, perceived severity of, and perceived agency in controlling, the condition. Participants reflected upon issues that were considered to relate specifically to a diagnosis later in life, although issues comparable with younger individuals were also expressed. Tentative recommendations for clinical practice are made with a focus on improving the diagnostic experience, disease management and psychosocial wellbeing of older adults diagnosed with CD.