DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgad331 ISSN: 0021-972X

Demographic, Healthcare Access, and Dietary Factors Associated With Thyroid Hormone Treatments for Hypothyroidism

Matthew D Ettleson, Sabrina Ibarra, Wen Wan, Sarah Peterson, Neda Laiteerapong, Antonio C Bianco
  • Biochemistry (medical)
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism



Clinical guidelines have recommended a trial of liothyronine (LT3) with levothyroxine (LT4) in select patients with hypothyroidism. However, little is known about the real-world use of LT3 and desiccated thyroid extract (DTE) and the characteristics of patients treated with LT3 and DTE.


(1) Determine national trends of new LT4, LT3, and DTE prescriptions in the United States; (2) determine whether sociodemographic, healthcare access, and dietary factors are associated with different thyroid hormone (TH) therapies.


Parallel cross-sectional studies were conducted using 2 datasets: (1) a national patient claims dataset (2010-2020) and (2) the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) dataset (1999-2016). Included participants had a diagnosis of primary or subclinical hypothyroidism. Study outcomes included the impact of demographics and healthcare access on differences in the proportion of TH therapies consisting of LT4, LT3, and DTE (patient claims) and differences in dietary behaviors between DTE-treated participants and LT4-treated matched controls (NHANES).


On an average annual basis, 47 711 adults received at least 1 new TH prescription, with 88.3% receiving LT4 monotherapy, 2.0% receiving LT3 therapy, and 9.4% receiving DTE therapy. The proportion receiving DTE therapy increased from 5.4% in 2010 to 10.2% in 2020. In the analysis between states, high primary care and endocrinology physician densities were associated with increased use of LT4 monotherapy (odds ratio 2.51, P < .001 and odds ratio 2.71, P < .001). DTE-treated NHANES participants (n = 73) consumed more dietary supplements compared to LT4-treated participants (n = 146) (4.7 vs 2.1, P < .001).


The proportion of new TH therapies containing DTE for hypothyroidism doubled since 2010 while LT3 therapies remained stable. DTE treatment was associated with decreased physician density and increased dietary supplement use.

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