Background: The use of prescribed medications during pregnancy is a challenge and an underestimated source of treatment burden. Levothyroxine (LT4) for the treatment of overt and subclinical hypothyroidism is extensively prescribed during pregnancy. To this end, we aimed to explore the patients' perceived benefits and risks, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and related burden of LT4 therapy during pregnancy. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we surveyed pregnant women who were treated with LT4 during pregnancy from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019, in a tertiary academic medical center of the United States. The anonymous online survey included questions to gather demographic data and multiple-choice questions regarding the benefits and risks, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and burden related to LT4 use during pregnancy. Results: Sixty-four pregnant women (mean age 31.5 years) completed the study survey (response rate: 96%): 62% were diagnosed with hypothyroidism more than 12 months before pregnancy, 16% less than or about 12 months before pregnancy, and 22% during pregnancy. We found that one-third of pregnant women using LT4 had a feeling of uneasiness/anxiety due to their hypothyroidism diagnosis. About half of the respondents (45%) reported that they did not receive an explanation by their clinician regarding the maternal/fetal risks of uncontrolled hypothyroidism or the benefits of adequate control. Finally, two in three patients expressed various concerns of LT4-related treatment burden. Conclusions: Our findings support the need for increased effective communication and tailored counseling to address fears, anxiety, and uncertainties about the benefits and risks of LT4 use in pregnancy. For patients with clear benefits from LT4 treatment in pregnancy, it could help to overcome their concerns, promote adherence, and decrease adverse maternal/fetal outcomes. For patients with no clear benefits established, clinicians need to be aware of LT4-related treatment burden in pregnancy and implement patient-centered approaches in their clinical practices.
- treatment burden
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism