The experience of diagnosis announcement in rare endocrine diseases: a survey of the French FIRENDO network

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2023 Nov 9:S0003-4266(23)00726-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2023.10.008. Online ahead of print.


CONTEXT: Diagnosis announcement of a chronic disease is a crucial moment for patients as well as for their families and an important step in the management of severe conditions such as rare endocrine diseases. Little is known of how diagnosis is communicated to patients and families. The FIRENDO network was created by the third French Plan for Rare Diseases, to promote autonomy, care and research on rare endocrine diseases.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to characterize, for the first time, the experience and needs of patients and/or their parents around the announcement of diagnosis to ensure optimal quality of care.

METHODS: A quantitative self-administered survey on diagnosis announcement procedures in rare endocrine diseases was launched in April 2017 by the ad hoc FIRENDO thematic working group in collaboration with its 11 partnering patient associations and support groups. The questionnaire was designed and revised by patient support group representatives, adult and pediatric endocrinologists, psychologists and biologists, all expert in rare endocrine diseases. It was made available on the FIRENDO network website and distributed mainly by email with electronic links on their respective websites to members of all affiliated patient support groups.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were filled out by 391 patients and 223 parents (median age of patients: 39 years). The following conditions were associated with at least 30 answers: Addison’s disease, classical forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), Russell-Silver syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly and craniopharyngioma. Overall, some announcement modalities were judged favorably by patients: physician’s empathy, availability and use of clear terms, and presence of family at the time of announcement. However, a lack of psychological care and information documents was reported, as well as some inadequate procedures such as postal mail announcements.

CONCLUSION: This work suggests that better knowledge of the patient’s experience is useful for improving the diagnosis announcement of rare endocrine disorders. The main recommendations derived from the survey were the need for several announcement visits, information on patient support groups and reference centers, imperatively avoiding impersonal announcement, and the usefulness of a written accompanying document.

PMID:37951412 | DOI:10.1016/j.ando.2023.10.008