student profile: Ms Tessa Copp


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Investigation of the impact of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) disease label on psychosocial outcomes and decision making

Supervisors: Kirsten MCCAFFERY , Jennifer DOUST, Jesse JANSEN , Jolyn HERSCH

Thesis abstract:

Disease definitions of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have expanded without clear evidence of benefits for the women being diagnosed. This has contributed to an increase in the number of women being diagnosed from 4-6% to up to 21% of reproductive-aged women, raising concern about unnecessary disease labelling and overdiagnosis.

The non-hyperandrogenic phenotypes introduced by the expanded criteria do not have the same associated risk of long-term implications that are evident in the hyperandrogenic phenotypes. The diagnostic criteria are also inappropriate for use in adolescent populations, due to PCOS symptoms overlapping with normal symptoms of pubertal development. There is also increasing concern that for some women, PCOS may not be a lifelong condition but a transitory condition, with symptoms resolving overtime. This suggests that, for some, diagnosis and treatment may be unnecessary.

Like with many diseases on a continuum of severity, there are women who have severe manifestations of PCOS who may benefit greatly from the PCOS disease label. Yet for women with milder symptoms, a label may cause more harm than benefit. Women with PCOS have been found to have higher levels of depression and anxiety, poorer self-esteem, negative body image, disordered eating and decreased sexual satisfaction. It is unclear, however, whether these negative consequences are due to the condition and its symptoms, or also from the psychological effect of being labelled as having PCOS and the associated long-term implications.

Using a mixed methods approach, this thesis will examine the impact of the PCOS disease label on psychosocial outcomes, medical decision-making and lifestyle choices.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Copp, T., Jansen, J., Doust, J., Mol, B., Dokras, A., McCaffery, K. (2017). Are expanding disease definitions unnecessarily labelling women with polycystic ovary syndrome? BMJ, 358, 1-10. [More Information]
  • Copp, T., McCaffery, K., Azizi, L., Doust, J., Mol, B., Jansen, J. (2017). Influence of the disease label polycystic ovary syndrome' on intention to have an ultrasound and psychosocial outcomes: A randomised online study in young women. Human Reproduction, 32(4), 876-884. [More Information]
  • Nickel, B., Barratt, A., Copp, T., Moynihan, R., McCaffery, K. (2017). Words do matter: a systematic review on how different terminology for the same condition influences management preferences. BMJ Open, 7(7), 1-12. [More Information]

2017

  • Copp, T., Jansen, J., Doust, J., Mol, B., Dokras, A., McCaffery, K. (2017). Are expanding disease definitions unnecessarily labelling women with polycystic ovary syndrome? BMJ, 358, 1-10. [More Information]
  • Copp, T., McCaffery, K., Azizi, L., Doust, J., Mol, B., Jansen, J. (2017). Influence of the disease label polycystic ovary syndrome' on intention to have an ultrasound and psychosocial outcomes: A randomised online study in young women. Human Reproduction, 32(4), 876-884. [More Information]
  • Nickel, B., Barratt, A., Copp, T., Moynihan, R., McCaffery, K. (2017). Words do matter: a systematic review on how different terminology for the same condition influences management preferences. BMJ Open, 7(7), 1-12. [More Information]

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.