A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials of DHEA Treatment Effects on Quality of Life in Women with Adrenal Insufficiency Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • 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 (I(2)) = 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.


  • Alkatib, Aziz A
  • Cosma, Mihaela
  • Elamin, Mohamed B
  • Erickson, Dana
  • Swiglo, Brian A
  • Erwin, Patricia J
  • Montori, Victor

publication date

  • October 1, 2009