Socioeconomic status and race are correlated with affective symptoms in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2020 Jun;41:102010. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2020.102010. Epub 2020 Feb 14.


Objective: Investigate the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and race with self-reported fatigue, depression, and anxiety levels in multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods: Cross-sectional review of the MS Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions (MS PATHS) database for adults with MS in the United States. We evaluated race and socioeconomic status (available markers: insurance, employment status, or level of education) as predictors of fatigue, depression, and anxiety sub-scores of the Neuro-QoL (Quality of life in neurological disorders), with particular interest between Caucasians/whites (CA) and African Americans/blacks (AA). Multivariate linear regression models included as covariates age, sex, disability status, smoking status, body mass index, and disease-modifying therapy.

Results: 7,430 individuals were included; compared to CA, AA tended to be younger, more female-predominant, and had a higher level of disability. AA had completed slightly less education, had a higher level of Medicaid coverage or uninsured status, and had higher rates of unemployed or disabled status. In the univariate model, markers of lower SES, by whichever definition we used, correlated with worse affective symptoms. In the multivariate model stratified by race, CA showed similar trends. In contrast, in AA, only lower SES by employment status was correlated with worse affective symptoms. In both CA and AA, moderate and severe level of disability correlated with worse affective symptoms.

Conclusion: SES and race may influence affective symptoms reported by individuals with MS. The reasons for the correlation are likely multifactorial. Longitudinal studies should strive to identify factors associated with risk of affective symptoms in MS that may be modifiable.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Health outcomes; Multiple sclerosis; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / ethnology*
  • African Americans / ethnology*
  • Anxiety / ethnology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology*
  • Fatigue / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / ethnology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Class*