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Friso de Vries, Mees Bruin, Angelica Cersosimo, Charlotte N van Beuzekom, S Faisal Ahmed, Robin P Peeters, Nienke R Biermasz, Olaf Hiort and Alberto M Pereira

Objective

Given that volumes of patients and interventions are important criteria to qualify as a reference centre (RC) for the European Reference Network on Rare Endocrine Conditions (Endo-ERN), the present study aimed to evaluate the data that were reported in the original application against subsequent assessments of activity and review the criteria that may define RCs using two main thematic groups (MTGs): Pituitary and Thyroid, as examples.

Methods

Review of content in application forms and continuous monitoring data and of a survey distributed to RCs. A list of ‘key procedures’ for the assessment of performance of RCs was composed with the help of the Pituitary and Thyroid MTG chairs.

Results

In the original application, the number of undefined procedures ranged from 20 to 5500/year (Pituitary) and from 10 to 2700/year (phyroid) between applicants. In the survey, the number of key procedures per centre ranged from 18 to 150/year (Pituitary) and from 20 to 1376/year (Thyroid). The median numbers of new patients reported in the continuous monitoring program were comparable with the application and survey; however, some centres reported large variations.

Conclusions

Monitoring of clinical activity in an ERN requires clear definitions that are optimally aligned with clinical practice, diagnosis registration, and hospital IT systems. This is a particular challenge in the rare disease field where the centre may also provide expert input in collaboration with local hospitals. Application of uniform definitions, in addition to condition-specific clinical benchmarks, which can include patient-reported- as well as clinician-reported outcome measures, is urgently needed to allow benchmarking of care across Endo-ERN.

Restricted access

Christa Flück, Anna Nordenström, S Faisal Ahmed, Salma R Ali, Marta Berra, Joanne Hall, Birgit Köhler, Vickie Pasterski, Ralitsa Robeva, Katinka Schweizer, Alexander Springer, Puck Westerveld, Olaf Hiort, Martine Cools and the COST Action BM1303 Working Group

The treatment and care of individuals who have a difference of sex development (DSD) have been revised over the past two decades and new guidelines have been published. In order to study the impact of treatments and new forms of management in these rare and heterogeneous conditions, standardised assessment procedures across centres are needed. Diagnostic work-up and detailed genital phenotyping are crucial at first assessment. DSDs may affect general health, have associated features or lead to comorbidities which may only be observed through lifelong follow-up. The impact of medical treatments and surgical (non-) interventions warrants special attention in the context of critical review of current and future care. It is equally important to explore gender development early and refer to specialised services if needed. DSDs and the medical, psychological, cultural and familial ways of dealing with it may affect self-perception, self-esteem, and psychosexual function. Therefore, psychosocial support has become one of the cornerstones in the multidisciplinary management of DSD, but its impact remains to be assessed. Careful clinical evaluation and pooled data reporting in a global DSD registry will allow linking genetic, metabolomic, phenotypic and psychological data. For this purpose, our group of clinical experts and patient and parent representatives designed a template for structured longitudinal follow-up. In this paper, we explain the rationale behind the selection of the dataset. This tool provides guidance to professionals caring for individuals with a DSD and their families. At the same time, it collects the data needed for answering unsolved questions of patients, clinicians, and researchers. Ultimately, outcomes for defined subgroups of rare DSD conditions should be studied through large collaborative endeavours using a common protocol.