Self-reported severity among patients with multiple sclerosis in the U.S. and its association with health outcomes

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2014 Jan;3(1):78-88. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jun 27.


Purpose: Individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience diminished health outcomes. However, little is known about how these outcomes differ according to disease severity. The aim of this study is to compare health-related quality of life (HRQoL), work productivity, activity impairment, and resource use between MS patients and controls, as well as across MS patients with varying self-reported disease severity.

Methods: Data were analyzed from respondents reporting an MS diagnosis (n=536) and controls (n=74,451) in the U.S. 2009 National Health and Wellness Survey (administered online to a nationally representative adult population). Differences were assessed between those with and without MS, and across three MS severity groups: mild (38.4%), moderate (50%), and severe (11.6%).

Results: MS patients vs. controls experienced significantly more activity impairment, decreased work productivity, increased healthcare utilization, and lower HRQoL (all p<0.001). Increasing MS severity was associated with greater activity impairment, lower work productivity, increased healthcare utilization, and lower HRQoL. More significant impairments emerged between individuals who perceived their disease severity as mild vs. moderate than moderate vs. severe.

Conclusion: MS patients reported greater impairment than controls, and impairment increased with disease severity (especially from mild to moderate). These findings show that increasing MS disease severity is associated with worse health outcomes.

Keywords: Disease severity; Multiple sclerosis; Quality of life; Resource use; Self-report; Work productivity.