Superthyroidism: Health care overuse in thyroid diseases in Germany


The diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases have increased sharply in recent years, although their prevalence in the population has remained relatively stable. This indicates an overuse of thyroid diseases. Overuse leads to unnecessary burdens for both patients and the health care system.

The project "Superthyroidism", which is funded by the Innovation Fund of the Federal Joint Committee, deals with the overuse of thyroid diseases in Germany. The aim of the project is to investigate the extent of overuse in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases and to find out potential reasons for this.

The data basis for the project is a population cohort (Study of Health in Pomerania; SHIP) as well as claims data from the German Pharmacoepidemiological Research Database (GePaRD). The already established population cohort SHIP with about 4000 participants from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern will be supplemented by a thyroid module within the project, in particular to update the reference ranges of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This is a prerequisite for guideline-based diagnosis and therapy of thyroid diseases.

Data from GePaRD will be used for analyses on regional differences as well as for trend studies on the prevalence of diagnostic and therapeutic measures. This is intended to identify starting points for counteracting overuse and overtreatment. Of particular importance is whether and to what extent thyroid sonographies are performed more frequently and whether it is possible to localize focal points of overdiagnosis. On the other hand, longitudinal analyses will be performed to characterize the course of diagnostics of thyroid diseases as well as the therapeutic consequences. This will address the question of whether the diagnostic and therapeutic pathways and duration of drug therapy recommended by the guidelines are followed for thyroid disease, or whether targeted interventions should be made at specific sites (e.g., physicians’ specialty or regions) to effectively address overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

The results of the project will help to develop a concept to counteract overuse in diagnosis and therapy of thyroid diseases.

Funding period

Begin:   January 2021
End:   September 2024


  • The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA)


Dr. rer. nat. Oliver Scholle

Project coordination (national)

Prof. Dr. med. Henry Völzke, Universitätsmedizin Greifswald, Deutschland


Project page on the website of the Federal Joint Committee

Selected project-related publications

    Articles with peer-review

  • Thiyagarajan A, Platzbecker K, Ittermann T, Völzke H, Haug U. Estimating incidence and case fatality of thyroid storm in Germany between 2007 and 2017: A claims data analysis. Thyroid. 2022;32(11):1307-1315.