Increasing prevalence of multiple sclerosis in Tuscany, Italy

Neurol Sci. 2020 Feb;41(2):397-402. doi: 10.1007/s10072-019-04090-0. Epub 2019 Nov 6.


Background and rationale: An increase of prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been reported in several countries, especially taking into account a long-term evaluation. This increasing trend often reflects improved case identification and ascertainment due to the refinement of diagnostic criteria. The aim of this study was to update the prevalence rate of MS in Tuscany (central Italy) as of 2017, and to assess if there has been an increasing trend of prevalence in this Region considering a short period of analysis, from 2014 to 2017.

Methods: To capture prevalent cases, a case-finding algorithm based on administrative data, previously created and validated, was used. As data sources, we considered hospital discharge records, drug-dispensing records, disease-specific exemptions from copayment to health care, home and residential long-term care, and inhabitant registry.

Results: As of January 1, 2017, 7809 cases were identified, of which 69.4% were females and 30.6% were males. Considering temporal variation, an increasing trend was observed, with standardized rates rising from 189.2 in 2014 to 208.7 per 100,000 in 2017.

Conclusions: Results confirm that prevalence increases every year, probably mainly due to the difference between incidence and mortality, resulting in an increasing trend. Moreover, administrative data may accurately identify MS patients in a routinary way and monitor this cohort along disease care pathways.

Keywords: Administrative data; Increasing prevalence; Italy; Multiple sclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors*