Evidence-Based Lifestyle Guidelines and Self-Management Strategies Utilized by Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Stephanie Cowan, Angela Grassi, Lynn Monahan Monahan Couch, Yvonne Jeanes, Siew Lim, Stephanie Pirotta, Jeff Harris, Caroline McGirr, Lisa Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex endocrine disorder, affecting 13% of reproductive-aged women. While lifestyle management is the first-line treatment for improving complications, women experience challenges with implementation. This cross-sectional study aims to identify the types and sources of dietary and physical activity (PA) interventions implemented by women with PCOS and understand how they use self-management strategies to support lifestyle change. An online questionnaire was disseminated via a consumer-based PCOS website (May 2015–2016). Women (n = 1167) were aged 18–45 years and primarily born within the United States (70%). A quarter or less of women (diet 25%, PA 14%) sought lifestyle advice from health professionals (medical clinicians or dietitians) compared to over half (diet 59%, PA 67%) using alternative sources, namely from online platforms. While only 33% and 16% of women reported following formal dietary or PA guidelines, respectively, 57% had implemented a ‘special diet’ to manage their condition, many of which were inconsistent with evidence-based practice in PCOS. Participants also displayed a low level of engagement with important self-management behaviors, including goal setting and positive self-talk. These findings suggest that online information may promote inaccurate and ineffective lifestyle advice and emphasize the need to increase engagement with qualified health professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589
Number of pages1
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2023


  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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