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The effectiveness of thyroid function tests screening in psychiatric inpatients

Akfer Karaoglan Kahilogullari, Sibel Orsel, Hasan Karadag, Asena Akdemir, Ugur Hatiloglu.

Objective: The main aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of thyroid function screening in psychiatric patients upon hospitalization in Turkey.

Method: A retrospective examination of 538 consecutive inpatient admissions to a general hospital psychiatry unit was conducted. Patients were diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Biochemical and thyroid function tests (TFT) were performed. Chi-square and t-tests were used for statistical analysis.

Results: TFT were performed on all 538 inpatients, but test results could be found for only 419 patients in the hospital data files. Therefore, these 419 patients were used in the current study. The study population consisted of adolescents and adults and ages varied between 14 and 81. The group included 226 male patients (53.9%) and 193 female patients (46.1%). Sixty-two patients (14.8%) had at least one TFT result outside of the normal ranges. Two of these patients (0.5%) had hyperthyroidism, 1 patient (0.2%) had hypothyroidism, 14 (3.3%) patients had subclinical hyperthyroidism, 21 patients (5.0%) had subclinical hypothyroidism, while 24 (5.7%) of the abnormal results were accepted as unclear findings. Psychotherapeutic drug use was also examined in the patients with abnormal TFT, but no correlation was found between therapy and abnormal TFT.

Conclusions: Effectiveness of screening psychiatric patients for thyroid disease seems to be questionable, except for specific patient groups such as those with alcohol abuse. Although the results of this study did not show a correlation between psychotherapeutic use and TFT, these results need to be confirmed by controlled studies in larger patient populations.

Key words: Screening, thyroid disease, thyroid functions, mental disorders, inpatients

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