Quality of life in patients with benign nontoxic goiter: impact of disease and treatment response, and comparison with the general population

Per Cramon, Steen Joop Bonnema, Jakob Bue Bjorner, Ola Ekholm, Ulla Feldt-Rasmussen, Daniel M Frendl, Mogens Groenvold, Laszlo Hegedüs, Åse Krogh Rasmussen, Torquil Watt
Thyroid: Official Journal of the American Thyroid Association 2015, 25 (3): 284-91

BACKGROUND: While health-related quality of life (HRQoL) issues often prompt treatment of benign nontoxic goiter (NTG), few clinical studies have systematically assessed HRQoL in patients with this condition. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate thyroid-related and generic HRQoL in patients with benign NTG, as compared to the general population, before and six months after treatment.

METHODS: Thyroid-related and generic HRQoL were assessed with Thyroid Patient-Reported Outcome (ThyPRO) and Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form (SF-36), respectively. Baseline and six-month post-treatment HRQoL assessments were obtained from 111 patients with NTG who underwent radioiodine therapy (32%), hemithyroidectomy (53%), total thyroidectomy (12%), or cyst aspiration with ethanol sclerotherapy (4%). Euthyroid patients were enrolled at baseline, 80% of whom remained euthyroid six months post-treatment, with 20% experiencing subclinical thyroid dysfunction. Normative ThyPRO (n=739) and SF-36 (n=6638) data were collected from representative general population samples. Score differences between patients and the general population were analyzed with multivariate linear regression analysis, adjusting for age, sex, comorbidity, and educational status. Changes in scores between baseline and follow-up were analyzed with the paired t-test, and magnitudes of score changes were evaluated as effect sizes (mean difference/SDbaseline; 0.2-0.5 indicating small, 0.5-0.8 moderate, and >0.8 large effects).

RESULTS: Patients' baseline scores were significantly worse than those in the general population on 9 of the 13 ThyPRO scales. Six months after treatment, the patients' ThyPRO scores had improved on six scales, with large/moderate effects on the Goiter Symptoms and Anxiety scales. However, on eight scales, the post-treatment patient scores were still significantly worse than the general population scores. At baseline, patients had worse scores than the general population on four of the eight SF-36 scales and the SF-36 Mental Component Summary, none of which improved after treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Compared with the general population, patients with NTG had greatest HRQoL impairment at baseline on the Goiter Symptoms and Anxiety scales, which also demonstrated the largest post-treatment improvements. However, both disease-specific and generic HRQoL deficits persisted six months after treatment. In order to improve individualized care, future studies should focus on identifying risk factors for persistent HRQoL deficits and compare HRQoL effects of the various goiter treatment modalities in relation to thyroid phenotype.

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