European Journal of Endocrinology

 Health-related quality of life of patients with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulations: a cohort study

Health-related quality of life (HrQoL) is increasingly considered to be an important outcome of care for hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation. The objective of this study was to assess the influence of type of HPA axis dysregulation and cortisol status on HrQOL and its evolution with time and treatment.


Prospective cohort study.


Between September 2007 and April 2014, HrQoL questionnaires were administered during routine management to all patients with HPA axis dysregulation hospitalized in a single department, and this was repeated after 6- 12-, 24- and 36-month during standard follow-up. The Medical Outcomes Study 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36) and the General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ-12) were used simultaneously, with a common time schedule to measure the impact of HPA axis dysregulation on HrQoL. Multivariate mixed linear regression models were constructed to adjust for potential confounders.


343 patients (206 with Cushing’s syndrome of pituitary origin, 91 with Cushing’s syndrome of adrenal origin and 46 with Addison’s disease) responded to the questionnaires. Overall, HrQoL scores were well below population values. Cushing syndrome of pituitary origin was associated with worse HrQoL, especially in physical dimensions. More than half of the patients, of all diagnoses and cortisol status, had psychological distress requiring attention according to the GHQ-12. Hypercortisolism had the greatest negative influence on HrQoL.


HRQoL appears significantly altered by all forms of HPA axis dysregulation, and most substantially and broadly by Cushing’s syndrome, notably during periods of hypercortisolism. These effects on HRQoL deserve further consideration both in clinical practice and research.