Background: Sexual dysfunction is a prevalent symptom in multiple sclerosis (MS) that may affect patients' health-related quality of life (HrQoL).
Objective: The objective of this paper is to examine the impact of sexual dysfunction on HrQoL in a large national sample using The Multiple Sclerosis Intimacy and Sexuality Questionnaire-19 (MSISQ-19).
Methods: Participants were recruited from a large MS registry, the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) Registry. Participants self-reported demographic information and completed the Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS), MSISQ-19, and the Short Form-12 (SF-12).
Results: The study population included 6183 persons (mean age: 50.6, SD = 9.6; 74.7% female, 42.3% currently employed). Using multivariate hierarchical regression analyses, all variables excluding gender predicted both the physical component summary (PCS-12) and the mental component summary (MCS-12) of the SF-12. Scores on the MSISQ-19 uniquely accounted for 3% of the variance in PCS-12 scores while disability level, as measured by PDDS, accounted for 31% of the variance. Conversely, MSISQ-19 scores uniquely accounted for 13% of the variance in MCS-12 scores, whereas disability level accounted for less than 1% of the variance.
Conclusion: In patients with MS, sexual dysfunction has a much larger detrimental impact on the mental health aspects of HrQoL than severity of physical disability.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; quality of life.