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19.02.2021 Open Access

Psychological well-being and illness perceptions in patients with hypopituitarism

Tessa N. A. Slagboom, Jan Berend Deijen, Christa C. Van Bunderen, Hans A. Knoop, Madeleine L. Drent
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The primary aim of the current study was to objectify a spectrum of persisting subjective psychological complaints in patients with hypopituitarism, at least six months after normalizing of the hormonal disturbances. Also, gender differences on these outcomes were investigated. The secondary aim was to identify illness perceptions and causal attributions within this patient group.


A total of 42 adult participants (60% females) with treated hypopituitarism once filled out a number of psychological questionnaires. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) assessed mood and the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) and the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS) assessed well-being. Illness perceptions were identified using the Illness Perceptions Questionnaire-Brief Dutch Language Version (IPQ-B DLV) and causal attributions by using the Causal Attribution List (CAL). Patient outcomes were compared to reference values of healthy norm groups.


Participants scored significantly worse on the POMS depression, anger, fatigue and tension subscales, the SCL-90 psychoneuroticism, depression, inadequacy of thinking and acting and sleeping problems subscales and all subscales of the WSAS when compared to reference data. Women also scored worse on depression (HADS) and somatic symptoms (SCL-90). Compared to other illnesses, patients with hypopituitarism have more negative and realistic illness perceptions on consequences, timeline, identity and emotions. Participants attributed their complaints more to physical causes than psychological causes.


Despite normalization of hormonal disturbances, patients with hypopituitarism in general can still experience problems during daily living, such as negative mood states and a decreased psychological well-being.

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