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Self-compassion directly and indirectly predicts dietary adherence and quality of life among adults with celiac disease

Dowd, A. Justine, Jung, Mary E.
Appetite 2017 v.113 pp. 293-300
adults, celiac disease, chronic diseases, cognition, gluten-free diet, prospective studies, quality of life, questionnaires
Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD) is the only treatment for preventing both short- and long-term consequences of celiac disease. Given that following a strict GFD can be difficult, evidence-based strategies are needed to improve the psychological experience of living with celiac disease and following the GFD. Self-compassion appears to be an important component of effectively self-regulating one's behavior to cope with a chronic disease. The main goal of this study was to examine the relationships between self-compassion and management of celiac disease as assessed by (a) adherence to a strict GFD and (b) celiac-specific quality of life (CQoL). The secondary goal of this study was to explore self-regulatory efficacy (i.e., confidence in one's ability to self-manage behavior to follow a strict GFD) and concurrent self-regulatory efficacy (i.e., one's confidence to self-manage other valued life goals while following a strict GFD) as mediators of the relationship between self-compassion and the primary outcomes (adherence and CQoL). In this prospective study, 200 North American adults diagnosed with celiac disease completed online questionnaires at two time points (baseline and 1 month later). Self-compassion at baseline directly predicted stricter adherence (at Time 2; b = −0.63, p = 0.006) and enhanced CQoL (at Time 2; b = −0.50, p = 0.001). Further, self-compassion (at Time 1) also indirectly predicted stricter Time 2 adherence through self-regulatory efficacy (at Time 1; b = −0.26, 95% CI [-0.58, -0.04], R2 = 0.29) and enhanced Time 2 CQoL through concurrent self-regulatory efficacy (at Time 1; b = −0.07, 95% CI [-0.14, -0.03], R2 = 0.33). This was the first study to assess the effects of self-compassion in relation to the psychological experience of coping with celiac disease and following a GFD. The findings indicate that self-compassion, self-regulatory efficacy and concurrent self-regulatory efficacy are important cognitions in understanding adherence to a GFD and CQoL among adults with celiac disease.