Quicker Acromegaly Diagnosis May Improve Psychosocial Outcomes

Woman holding her head looking downThe amount of time that lapses between the onset of acromegaly symptoms and the point when patients are accurately diagnosed with the condition may impact their psychosocial well-being, according to a new study.

Researchers in the Department of Neurosurgery at RWTH Aachen University in Germany recently explored the associations between diagnostic delay, psychosocial impairment, and access to healthcare in rural and urban areas.

The study, “Diagnostic delay is associated with psychosocial impairment in acromegaly,” was published online ahead of print in November 2012. It appears in the journal Pituitary.

The researchers relied on data from 41 patients with acromegaly. Information was gathered on the amount of time that lapsed between the onset of symptoms, patients’ first attempts at seeking medical advice, and their final diagnosis of acromegaly. The study authors were also interested in patients’ quality of life and levels of psychosocial impairment. Factors used to indicate psychosocial impairment included: depression, sleep disturbances, problems with body image, and daytime sleepiness.

Additionally, the researchers grouped the participants based on their regions: 22 out of the 41 patients lived in rural healthcare environments (RHCE), while 19 lived in urban healthcare environments (UHCE). Population data from the German Federal Statistical Office was used in this assessment.

The results showed that patients in rural areas waited longer to seek medical advice after the onset of acromegaly symptoms. However, diagnosis following initial presentation for medical advice occurred as quickly in the RHCE group as it did in the UHCE group.

Higher levels of psychosocial impairment were seen in the participants living in urban healthcare environments. The researchers also found significant correlations between the delay of acromegaly diagnosis and psychological quality of life, daytime sleepiness, sleep disorders, problems with body image, and depression in all of the patients.

The researchers conclude that physicians should be aware of the association between psychosocial impairment and delay of diagnosis in patients with acromegaly.

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