Covid-19 and thyroid disease

A survey by the British Thyroid Foundation (BTF) 

Maria PavlatouJulia Priestley, Cheryl McMullan, Petros Perros 

Thank you to everyone who completed our online patient survey in JulyThe purpose was to find out more about how Covid-19 had affected you and whether there were any unmet needs we could address. fantastic 633 of you shared your experiences of receiving information, care and support during the Covid-19 outbreakYou also told us how the pandemic had affected your wellbeing.  

Of the 633 respondents, the average age was 49 years and 93.6% were femaleThe majority of respondents (82%) lived in England. The commonest thyroid disorder among respondents was hypothyroidism (54%). Hyperthyroidism was the second most common disorder among respondents (34%). 
Just over half (57%) of you had at least one other medical condition besides thyroid disease; most commonly depression affecting 30%. Six respondents (1%) had tested positive for Covid-19 at the time of the survey and another 108 (18%) had symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 but had not been tested.  

The main findings were: 

  • When asked to rate on a scale of 0-10 (0 = no concern, 10 = very concerned) your level of concern about your thyroid disease predisposing you to Covid-19you  gave an average score of 4.6.  

  • You told us Covid-19 had impacted your quality of life. When asked to score quality of life before and after the pandemicyou  gave an average score before Covid-19 of 7/10. This dropped to 5.6/10 during the pandemic. 58% of you  additionally felt your  anxiety and depression had increased during the pandemic.  

  • Just over half (52%) of you told us they gained weight during the pandemic. 

  • 65% of you required medical advice during the pandemic; 12% of you were unable to make an appointment with your GP or thyroid specialist.  
  • 7.6% of you had had your  thyroid treatment (surgery, radioiodine or treatment for TED) postponed.  

  • 83% of you said you would welcome a scheme in which thyroid expertise could be pooled nationally to improve patient care. Under this scheme patients would potentially have telephone or video consultations with thyroid experts in different parts of the country.  

  • The level of satisfaction with GP services for patients with thyroid diseases during the pandemic attracted an average rating of 4.3/10Satisfaction levels with NHS thyroid specialists were similar (4.1/10). 

  • 9.6% of you encountered difficulties obtaining repeat thyroid prescriptions during the pandemic.  
  • Just over half (51%) of you used the BTF website to find information about Covid-19 in relation to thyroid disease. You gave a satisfaction rating of 6/10 for the quality of information on Covid-19 and thyroid disease on the BTF website. This compared to a rating of 3.9/10 for the NHS website.  

In conclusionthe survey identified unmet needs surrounding thyroid patient access to specialist medical advice, as well as to information relating to Covid-19 and thyroid diseaseBased on this evidence we will continue to update the Covid-19 related information on our website and promote it for the patient and public benefitWe have also shared concerns identified in this survey with medical professionals who are responsible for improving services for people with thyroid disorders. We are hopeful this feedback will help shape decisions about future patient care in the UK. 

  • * ‘You’ denotes the 633 survey respondents 

We are pleased to report that the results of this survey have now been turned into an academic article. Our thanks go to Dr Petros Perros for recognising the importance of collecting this patient feedback and to Dr Maria Pavlatou who led the analysis.

Read the article

 Covid-19 resources

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