Pituitary Tumors Affect Patients’ Ability to Work, Reduce Quality of Life
Pituitary tumor conditions, such as Cushing’s disease, have a substantial effect on patients’ work capabilities and health-related quality of life, researchers from The Netherlands reported.
The study, “Work disability and its determinants in patients with pituitary tumor-related disease,” was published in the journal Pituitary.
Pituitary tumors, like those that cause Cushing’s disease, have significant effects on a patient’s physical, mental, and social health, all of which influence their work status and health-related quality of life. However, the effects of the disease on work status is relatively under-investigated, investigators report.
Here, researchers evaluated the work disability among patients who were treated for pituitary tumors in an attempt to understand the impact of disease diagnosis and treatment on their social participation and ability to maintain a paying job.
In their study, researchers examined 241 patients (61% women) with a median age of 53 years. The majority (27%) had non-functioning pituitary tumors, which do not produce excess hormones, but patients with acromegaly, Cushing’s disease, prolactinomas, and Rathke’s cleft cyst also were included.
Participants were asked to complete questionnaires to evaluate their health-related quality of life and disease-specific impact on their work capabilities. Each participant completed a set of five questionnaires.
Participants also reported their hormonal status and demographic data, including gender, age, education, and marital status. Specific information, such as disease diagnosis, treatment, and tumor type was obtained from their medical records.
SF-HLQ was used to obtain information on the participants’ employment and their work attendance. Employment was either paid or unpaid. (Participation in household chores was considered not having a paid job.)
WRFQ is a 27-question survey that determines work disability regarding being able to meet the productivity, physical, emotional, social, and flexible demands. A higher score indicates low self-perceived work disability.
Disease-specific mood problems, social and sexual functioning issues, negative perceptions due to illness, physical and cognitive difficulties, were assessed using a 26-item survey called Leiden Bother and Needs for Support Questionnaire for pituitary patients (LBNQ-Pituitary).
Overall, 28% of patients did not have a paid job, but the rates increased to 47% among those with Cushing’s disease. Low education, hormonal deficits, and being single were identified as the most common determinants of not having a paid job among this population.
Further analysis revealed that more patients with Cushing’s disease and acromegaly had undergone radiotherapy. They also had more hormonal deficits than others with different tumor types.
Overall, patients with a paid job reported working a median of 36 hours in one week and 41% of those patients missed work an average of 27 days during the previous year. Health-related problems during work also were reported by 39% with a paid job.
Finally, health-related quality of life was determined using two questionnaires: SF-36 and EQ-5D. The physical, mental, and emotional well being was measured with SF-36, while ED-5D measured the health outcome based on the impact of pain, mobility, self-care, usual activities, discomfort, and anxiety or depression. In both SF-36 and EQ-5D, a higher score indicates a better health status.
Statistical analysis revealed that the quality of life was significantly higher in patients with a job. Overall, patients with a paid job reported better health status and higher quality of life than those without a paid job.
Although 40% of the patients reported being bothered by health-related problems in the past year, only 12% sought the help of an occupational physician, the researchers reported.
“Work disability among patients with a pituitary tumor is substantial,” investigators said.
“The determinants and difficulties at work found in this study could potentially be used for further research, and we advise healthcare professionals to take these results into consideration in the clinical guidance of patients,” they concluded.