Clinical evaluation study of the German network of disorders of sex development (DSD)/intersexuality: study design, description of the study population, and data quality

Lux, Anke; Kropf, Siegfried; Kleinemeier, Eva; Jürgensen, Martina; Thyen, Ute
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: The German Network of Disorders of Sex Development (DSD)/Intersexuality carried out a large scale clinical evaluation study on quality of life, gender identity, treatment satisfaction, coping, and problems associated with diagnoses and therapies in individuals with disorders of sex development (DSD). DSD are a heterogeneous group of various genetic disorders of sex determination or sex differentiation, all of which are rare conditions. In about half of all cases the molecular genetic diagnosis is unknown and diagnosis rests on clinical features. Methods and design: The multi-centre clinical evaluation study includes short-term follow-up in some and cross-sectional assessments in all age and diagnostic groups fitting the criteria of DSD. Recruitment was from January 2005 until December 2007 in whole Germany and, additionally, in 2007 in Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. The study consists of a psychosocial inquiry for children, adolescents and their parents, and adults with standardized instruments and the collection of DSD-specific medical data by the attending physician. The main goal was the description of clinical outcomes and the health-care situation of individuals with DSD using a broad generic definition of DSD including all conditions with a mismatch of chromosomal, gonadal and phenotypical sex. 439 children and adolescents, their parents and adults with DSD participated. Discussion: The clinical evaluation study represents the most comprehensive study in this clinical field. The paper discusses the study protocol, the data management and data quality as well as the classification used, and it describes the study population. Given the lack of large datasets in rare conditions such as DSD and often biased results from small scale clinical case series, the study aims to generate concrete hypotheses for evidence-based guidelines, which should be tested in further studies.


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