Do South Asian women with PCOS have poorer health-related quality of life than Caucasian women with PCOS? A comparative cross-sectional study.
Jones GL., Palep-Singh M., Ledger WL., Balen AH., Jenkinson C., Campbell MJ., Lashen H.
BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common chronic endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. This study aimed to compare the HRQoL of South Asian and white Caucasian women with PCOS, given that it is particularly common among women of South Asian origin and they have been shown to have more severe symptoms. METHODS: The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Questionnaire (PCOSQ) and the Short Form-36 (SF-36) were administered in a cross-sectional survey to 42 South Asian and 129 Caucasian women diagnosed with PCOS recruited from the gynaecology outpatient clinics of two university teaching hospitals in Sheffield and Leeds. Additional clinical data was abstracted from medical notes. Normative data, collected as part of the Oxford Health and Lifestyles II survey, was obtained to compare SF-36 results with ethnically matched women from the general UK population. Using the SF-36, normative HRQoL scores for women of South Asian origin were lower than for Caucasian women. Given this lower baseline we tested whether the same relationship holds true among those with PCOS. RESULTS: Although HRQoL scores for women with PCOS were lower than normative data for both groups, South Asian women with PCOS did not have poorer HRQoL than their Caucasian counterparts. For both the SF-36 and PCOSQ, mean scores were broadly the same for both Asian and Caucasian women. For both groups, the worst two HRQoL domains as measured on the PCOSQ were 'infertility' and 'weight', with respective scores of 35.3 and 42.3 for Asian women with PCOS compared to 38.6 and 35.4 for Caucasian women with PCOS. The highest scoring domain for South Asian women with PCOS was 'menstrual problems' (55.3), indicating best health, and was the only statistically significant difference from Caucasian women (p = 0.01). On the SF-36, the lowest scoring domain was 'Energy & Vitality' for Caucasian women with PCOS, but this was significantly higher for Asian women with PCOS (p = 0.01). The best health status for both groups was 'physical functioning', although this was significantly lower for South Asian women with PCOS (p = 0.005). Interestingly, only two domains differed significantly from the normative data for the Asian women with PCOS, while seven domains were significantly different for the Caucasian women with PCOS compared to their normative counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: The HRQoL differences that exist between South Asian and Caucasian women in the general population do not appear to be replicated amongst women with PCOS. PCOS reduces HRQoL to broadly similar levels, regardless of ethnicity and differences in the normative baseline HRQoL of these groups.