Hyperthyroidism could be great cost to countries in disability benefits

Sep 2015

People diagnosed with hyperthyroidism are 88% more likely to receive disability benefits than people without the condition; reports a Danish study published this week in the European Journal of Endocrinology

People with hyperthyroidism produce too much thyroid hormone which can make them feel anxious and hyperactive. It is a common hormone-related disorder which affects 5 -10 % of the population.  Hyperthyroid patients often have difficulty with everday routines but until now, nobody has looked in depth at the effect of hyperthyroidism on people’s ability to work.

Researchers at the Odense University Hospital in Denmark studied 1942 hyperthyroid and 7768 non-hyperthyroid individuals for 9 years to determine their risk of receiving disability pension. To rule out differences in environment and upbringing, the researchers also looked at 584 pairs of twins in which one twin was hyperthyroid and the other not.

They found that individuals diagnosed with hyperthyroidism before the age of 60 have an 88 % increased risk of receiving disability pension. Furthermore, the researchers found that even if the hyperthyroid individuals remain in their jobs, they have a significantly lower salary progression than their non-hyperthyroid colleagues. Hyperthyroid individuals were found to earn €1189 less than non-hyperthyroid individuals comparing two years before diagnosis with two years after.

Dr Frans Brandt who led the study said, “In the past hyperthyroidism has been viewed a relatively mild disease that can be easily treated, however our study underlines the true severity of the disease by showing the negative socioeconomic effect that it has on individuals.”

“In comparison, obese individuals have an 87 % risk of receiving disability pension and those with rheumatoid arthritis have the same lower income progression as hyperthyroid individuals. This means that hyperthyroidism has socioeconomic consequences of the same magnitude as well-established conditions which are the focus of major research.”

“The next step for our group is to explore hyperthyroidism in the entire Danish population; this should lead to the understanding of hyperthyroidism as a much more complicated condition that warrants further investigation.”


Notes for Editors

 The study “Hyperthyroidism is associated with work disability and loss of labout market income. A Danish register-based study in singletons and disease discordant twin pairs” was published in the European Journal of Endocrinology on Friday 25 September 2015.

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