Psychosocial outcome of children evaluated for short stature

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997 Oct;151(10):1017-23. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170470051010.


Objective: To assess the psychosocial functioning of adults who were evaluated as children for short stature and were not treated with human growth hormone.

Design: Inception cohort study.

Setting: Hospital-based pediatric endocrinology clinic.

Participants: From 1975 to 1980, medical record review indicated that 181 of the children referred to our clinic for concerns about short stature were non-growth hormone deficient. In 1992 and 1993, we were able to recruit 35 of these patients for a follow-up study. Eligible subjects were at least 18 years of age at the time of follow-up.

Main outcome measures: Standardized self-report questionnaires assessed various domains of psychosocial adjustment. Also, a brief test of intellectual functioning was administered and subjects underwent a semistructured in-person interview to evaluate pragmatic functioning and experiences associated with short stature.

Results: Few significant differences between the study sample and standardization samples were found on measures of psychosocial and intellectual functioning. Within-group childhood height during the first evaluation appointment was not significantly associated with most adult measures of psychosocial adjustment. Shorter adult stature was significantly associated with lower educational achievement, lower self-esteem, and greater emotional distress.

Conclusions: The absence of significant psychosocial distress or impairment in these subjects brings into question one basis for hormonal treatment for non-growth hormone deficient short stature; that short stature in childhood is likely to lead to psychological dysfunction in adulthood. The results, however, also suggest that shorter stature in adulthood may constitute a psychosocial stressor, increasing vulnerability across several domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Height*
  • Body Image*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Growth Disorders / psychology*
  • Growth Disorders / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome