Multinational survey of treatment practices of clinicians managing subclinical hypothyroidism in older people in 2019


Background: International societies have recommended that levothyroxine should not routinely be prescribed in older individuals for the management of mild subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH). However, it is unknown whether clinicians managing people with SCH are either aware of or adhere to these guidelines. Methods: A web-based survey of members of several international thyroid associations and general practitioners in North-East England was conducted. Respondents were presented with a vignette of an 80-year-old gentleman with mild persistent SCH experiencing tiredness. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate predictors of awareness of guidelines and responses to treatment. Results: The survey response rate was 21.9% (565/2,583). Only 7.6% of clinicians were unaware of guidelines regarding management of SCH in older people. Twenty percent of clinicians stated that they would treat the older patient with mild SCH, whereas 13% were unsure. Clinicians from North America were more likely to treat the older person with mild SCH than clinicians from elsewhere (OR 2.24 [1.25–3.98]). Likewise, non-endocrinologists were also more likely than endocrinologists to treat the older person with mild SCH (OR 3.26 [1.45–6.47]). Conclusion: The majority of clinicians are aware of guidelines regarding management of SCH in older individuals. However, a considerable proportion of clinicians would still treat an older person with non-specific symptoms and mild SCH. These guidelines need to be disseminated more widely and more research is required to understand barriers to adherence to international recommendations.

European Thyroid Journal 2020; doi:10.1159/000509228