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Eur J Endocrinol. 2013 Apr 15;168(5):787-93. doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-1078. Print 2013 May.

A direct comparison of quality of life in obese and Cushing's syndrome patients.

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  • 1The Program in Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology, The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.



Obese (OB) individuals and patients with Cushing's syndrome (CS) often have similar clinical presentations. While each group has reduced health-related quality of life (HRQL), it is not known whether the degree of impairment is different and might distinguish between them. The objective of this study was to compare HRQL in these two populations.


Cross-sectional study.


Three hundred and twenty-seven OB patients (48.1±11.7 years; 72.5% women) with weight gain and at least two features of CS were recruited from an outpatient weight management clinic. Sixty-six untreated patients with CS (41.6±13.2 years; 78.8% women) presented to the NIH Clinical Center for evaluation. Subjects completed the SF-36 survey and a locally created symptom questionnaire.


After adjusting for symptom count, OB patients had a significantly higher (better HRQL) mean physical component summary (PCS) score than CS patients (44.9±0.6 vs 35.4±1.5, P<0.0001). However, the mean mental component summary (MCS) score was lower (worse HRQL) in the OB group (41.6±0.6 vs 50.7±1.6, P<0.0001). Symptom count showed significant correlations with PCS and MCS scores. BMI correlated with PCS (r=-0.29) in OB but not in CS patients. BMI was not associated with MCS in either group.


HRQL is significantly different between OB and CS patients. Surprisingly, after adjusting for symptom count, OB patients showed worse mental health scores than the CS population. Significant differences in HRQL and symptom count may suggest which OB patients should be screened for CS.

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