The financial impact on people with coeliac disease of withdrawing gluten-free food from prescriptions in England: findings from a cross-sectional survey.
Sugavanam T., Crocker H., Violato M., Peters M.
BACKGROUND: A lifelong gluten-free diet is the only treatment for coeliac disease. The cost and availability of gluten-free substitute food (GFSF) remain challenging. Some local areas in England have stopped gluten-free prescriptions for coeliac disease. The aim of this paper is to present the quantitative findings of the financial impact of prescription withdrawal on people with coeliac disease. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey with adults in England who reported having been diagnosed with coeliac disease by a health professional. The postal survey was distributed by Coeliac UK to their members in 13 prescribing and 13 non-prescribing local areas that were matched for geographical location and level of deprivation. Additionally, an advertisement for the survey was placed on social media. The questionnaire contained items on the availability and use of prescriptions; the weekly amount spent on GFSF; amount of specific GFSF bought; affordability of GFSF; demographics and health-related variables. Data were analysed by descriptive statistics, analysis of variance and regression analysis. RESULTS: Of the 1697 participants, 809 resided in areas that provided prescriptions and 888 in non-prescribing areas. Participants self-report of their prescription did not always match the local area prescription policy. There was no statistically significant difference between prescribing and non-prescribing areas in how easy or difficult participants found it to obtain GFSF (p = 0.644) and its availability in various locations. Participants in non-prescribing areas purchased most types of GFSF items in statistically significantly higher quantities and thereby spent an additional £11.32/month on GFSF items than participants in prescribing areas (p