Context: Women with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency report a decreased health-related quality of life (HRQOL) despite traditional adrenal replacement therapy. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been studied as an agent to improve HRQOL in these patients. Objective: We sought to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of DHEA effects on HRQOL in women with adrenal insufficiency. Data Sources: We searched electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Web of Science, CINAHL, and PsycInfo) and reference lists of eligible studies through July 2008. Study Selection: Eligible trials randomly assigned women with primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency to either DHEA or control and measured the effect of treatment on HRQOL. Data Extraction: Reviewers working independently and in duplicate assessed the methodological quality of trials and collected data on patient characteristics, interventions, and outcomes. Data Synthesis: We found 10 eligible trials that measured HRQOL and depression, anxiety, and sexual function. Random-effects meta-analysis showed a small improvement in HRQOL in women treated with DHEA compared with placebo [effect size of 0.21; 95% confidence interval, 0.08 to 0.33; inconsistency (I2) = 32%]. There was a small beneficial effect of DHEA on depression; effects on anxiety and sexual well-being were also small and not statistically significant. Conclusions: DHEA may improve, in a small and perhaps trivial manner, HRQOL and depression in women with adrenal insufficiency. There was no significant effect of DHEA on anxiety and sexual well-being. The evidence appears insufficient to support the routine use of DHEA in women with adrenal insufficiency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical