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Psychosocial morbidity of Graves’ orbitopathy

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Summary Objective 

Ocular diseases markedly impair daily function. In Graves’ orbitopathy (GO), an associated psychosocial burden is present due to disfiguring proptosis and/or diplopia, signs with significant impact on functional status and well-being. We have therefore surveyed and assessed the psychosocial morbidity of GO. Design 

A prospective controlled study on subjects with GO using internationally validated, self-reporting questionnaires. Patients 

One hundred and two consecutive patients with varying degrees of severity and activity of GO. Measurements 

Emotional distress, coping styles and quality of life (QoL) were assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, by a German adaptation of the Ways-of-Coping Checklist, and with the 36-item Short Form, respectively. Stressful events in the 6 months preceding diagnosis were registered with the Life Experience Survey. QoL findings were compared to German reference values, as well as to 102 age- and gender-matched patients, each with type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, IDDM) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), respectively. Results 

Compared to the German reference population, all QoL scales were at a lower rate and were especially decreased in subjects with active and/or severe GO, orbital pain, diplopia and stressful life events. Compared to diabetics, psychosocial scales were considerably reduced in GO (z = −1 vs. 0·1, P < 0·001) and higher scores for depressive coping (2·32 vs. 1·71, P < 0·001) and trivializing (2·37 vs. 1·97, P < 0·006) were noted. In GO, depressive coping and trivializing were negatively correlated with the mental (r = −0·603 and r =−0·411, both P < 0·001) and physical (r = −0·487 and r = −0·354, both P < 0·001) components of QoL. Depressive coping also positively correlated with anxiety (r = 0·636) and depression (r = 0·590), respectively, both P < 0·001. Emotional distress noted in 46 subjects, mostly with active and severe GO, was associated with poor QoL. Anxiety and depression were present in 41 and 24 GO patients, respectively. The number of stressful events positively correlated with the scores of anxiety (r = 0·3335) and depression (r = 0·3178), both P = 0·001. Foremost emotional distress, but also diplopia, stressful events and depressive coping had a major impact on QoL (proportion of variance explained = 13·1%, P < 0·001, multiple regression analysis). More than 75% of the psychosocial impairment in GO (R2 = 0·76, P < 0·001) was associated with seven variables only (e.g. depression and anxiety). Six months prior to GO onset, 74 patients experienced a mean of 4 (range 0–13) stressful life events. Subjects with optic neuropathy had more stressful events than those without nerve involvement (5·1 vs. 2·7, P = 0·0425). Conclusions 

Psychosocial morbidity is present in severe and/or active GO, which negatively affects QoL. The patients are not only physically ill, they also exhibit emotional distress. Accompanying psychosomatic treatment is indicated among about half of all GO patients.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany 2: Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy and 3: Ophthalmology, Gutenberg University, Mainz and

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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