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PLoS One. 2011 Jan 31;6(1):e16223. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016223.

Non-compliance with growth hormone treatment in children is common and impairs linear growth.

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  • 1Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. w.cutfield@auckland.ac.nz



GH therapy requires daily injections over many years and compliance can be difficult to sustain. As growth hormone (GH) is expensive, non-compliance is likely to lead to suboptimal growth, at considerable cost. Thus, we aimed to assess the compliance rate of children and adolescents with GH treatment in New Zealand.


This was a national survey of GH compliance, in which all children receiving government-funded GH for a four-month interval were included. Compliance was defined as ≥ 85% adherence (no more than one missed dose a week on average) to prescribed treatment. Compliance was determined based on two parameters: either the number of GH vials requested (GHreq) by the family or the number of empty GH vials returned (GHret). Data are presented as mean ± SEM.


177 patients were receiving GH in the study period, aged 12.1 ± 0.6 years. The rate of returned vials, but not number of vials requested, was positively associated with HVSDS (p < 0.05), such that patients with good compliance had significantly greater linear growth over the study period (p<0.05). GHret was therefore used for subsequent analyses. 66% of patients were non-compliant, and this outcome was not affected by sex, age or clinical diagnosis. However, Maori ethnicity was associated with a lower rate of compliance.


An objective assessment of compliance such as returned vials is much more reliable than compliance based on parental or patient based information. Non-compliance with GH treatment is common, and associated with reduced linear growth. Non-compliance should be considered in all patients with apparently suboptimal response to GH treatment.

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