Background: Fatigue is one of the most common and distressing symptoms among persons with multiple sclerosis (pwMS).
Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate fatigue as a predictor for disease worsening among pwMS.
Methods: In this retrospective cohort study of New York State MS Consortium (NYSMSC) registry, MS patients reporting moderate-to-severe fatigue at study enrollment (n = 2714) were frequency matched to less-fatigued subjects (n = 2714) on age, baseline Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), disease duration, and MS phenotype. Change from baseline patient-reported outcomes (PROs), as measured by LIFEware™, categorized participants into two groups: those with stable/improved outcomes and those who worsened. In a subgroup of patients with longitudinal data (n = 1951), sustained EDSS worsening was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards modeling to explore the effect of fatigue.
Results: The median survival time from study enrollment to sustained EDSS worsening was 8.7 years (CI: 7.2-10.1). Participants who reported fatigue at baseline were more likely to experience sustained EDSS worsening during follow-up (HR: 1.4, 95% CI: 1.2-1.7). Patients who were fatigued at baseline were also more likely to report worsening psychosocial limitations (all ps ⩽ 0.01).
Conclusion: In addition to being a common symptom of MS, severe fatigue was a significant predictor for EDSS worsening in the NYSMSC.
Keywords: EDSS worsening; Fatigue; patient-reported outcomes; progression.