Quality of life in multiple sclerosis is dominated by fatigue, disability and self-efficacy

J Neurol Sci. 2021 Jul 15;426:117437. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2021.117437. Epub 2021 Apr 9.


Background and objective: Quality of life in multiple sclerosis (MS) reflects complex relationships between symptoms (fatigue, spasticity pain, and bladder or vision dysfunction), disability, health perceptions, and self-efficacy.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a self-report questionnaire pack of patient reported outcome measures was collected from 5695 people with MS (pwMS) alongside clinical data from their neurologists. Each patient reported outcome measure was converted to interval-scaled estimates following fit to the Rasch model. The patient reported outcome measures, as well as perceived health, age, disease subtype and gender, were then subject to path analysis to analyse their relationships with quality of life (QoL), guided by the Wilson and Clearly conceptual framework.

Results: The final model explains 81.2% of the variance of QoL. Fatigue is clearly dominant, suggesting a means to intervene and improve QoL. The next most influential factors were disability and self-efficacy, which have similar effect levels. The model can be replicated for pwMS on disease modifying therapy and is largely invariant for gender and disease subtype. Age had an insignificant effect.

Conclusions: In order to promote better QoL, MS care should include management of fatigue, interventions to ameliorate disability, and support to enhance self-efficacy. The range of skills needed for these treatments will require input from medical, nursing, therapy and psychology staff, so these findings provide evidence substantiating the need for pwMS to be provided with care by comprehensive multidisciplinary teams.

Keywords: Disability; Fatigue; Multiple sclerosis; Patient reported outcome measures; Quality of life; Self-efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / complications
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / therapy
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Efficacy