Study probes the economic impact of undiagnosed celiac disease

March 27, 2009

A study published in Journal of Insurance Medicine by members of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center has demonstrated an economic benefit to the diagnosis of celiac disease in a national managed-care population in the United States.

Peter HR Green, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, had this to say about the study (Journal of Insurance Medicine, 2008;40:218-228) and the economic benefits of increased diagnosis of celiac disease: "We now have evidence that the increased awareness and diagnosis of celiac disease would benefit not only the patients but would result in health care costs savings."

Celiac disease occurs in genetically susceptible individuals due to the development of an immune response to gluten, the protein component of wheat, rye and barley. Studies have demonstrated that celiac disease occurs in about 1 percent of the U.S. population; however, most people with this condition remain undiagnosed. Those in whom it is diagnosed have a long duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis. Celiac disease is associated with the development of osteoporosis, anemia, a host of associated autoimmune conditions as well as several different malignancies.

The recent study that examined a large managed-care database revealed reduced health care costs after the diagnosis of celiac disease. The reductions in costs were attributable to decreasing trends in utilization of office visits, laboratory tests, diagnostic imaging and endoscopy procedures in those diagnosed with celiac disease.

As a result of the study, "there needs to be greater physician education in the various modes of presentation and manifestations of celiac disease and more use of the widely available screening blood tests that detect the disease," Dr. Green said.
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About the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center

The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center Medical Center was established within the Department of Medicine at Columbia University in 2001, Its mission: to redefine the future of celiac disease and treatment on an ongoing basis, through continuing advances in biomedical research, patient care, and physician and public education.

The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center is one of a few centers in the United States that provides comprehensive medical care, including nutrition, for adult and pediatric patients with celiac disease. Additional information is available online at www.celiacdiseasecenter.org.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is now among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the most comprehensive medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. Columbia University Medical Center is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the nation's largest not-for-profit hospital provider. For more information, please visit http://www.cumc.columbia.edu.

Columbia University Medical Center

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