High compared with low educational level increases the odds of starting levothyroxine (L-T4) with a normal thyroid-stimulating hormone – the mechanism is most likely patient request. The use of liothyronine (L-T3) and desiccated thyroid extract (DTE) is also speculated to be initiated at patients’ request. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to evaluate if educational level influences treatment with L-T3 and DTE.
Material and methods
In this register-based cross-sectional study, we included all Danish citizens ≥30 years with redeemed prescription of L-T4, L-T3, or DTE during 2017–2020. We defined educational levels as short, medium, and long (<10 years, 10–12 years, and above 12 years, respectively). The association between educational level and treatment with LT3 or DTE vs only LT4 was analyzed in logistic regression models adjusted for age and sex.
We included 154,360 individuals using thyroid medication of whom 3829 were treated with L-T3 (2.48%) and 430 with DTE (0.28%). The usage was highest among women (3.15%) and the age group 40–49 (5.6%). Longer education compared with short increased the odds of being treated with DTE or L-T3 (medium education odds ratio (OR) 1.61 (95% CI 1.50–1.8) and long education OR 1.95 (95% CI 1.79–2.13)). Test for trend: OR: 1.37 (95% CI 1.31–1.42). Adjustment for other covariates did not affect the results substantially.
Persons with a longer compared to a shorter education are more often treated with either DTE or L-T3, and the usage of these drugs is limited to less than 3% of thyroid hormone users.