Health related quality of life in patients recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
To describe a representative population of patients recently diagnosed with MS in terms of both motor and non-motor disability. In particular we wanted to examine the HRQoL in this population to get a better understanding of what impact various clinical features have on the patients’ experience of distress in the early phase of the disease.
Ninety three patients diagnosed with MS in Hordaland and Rogaland county in 1998–2000 and 96 healthy controls were examined through questionnaires on HRQoL (SF-36), depression (Beck's depression inventory), fatigue (fatigue severity scale) and apathy (Starkstein's apathy scale). The patients also underwent neurological examination including the expanded disability status scale and the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite, as well as the symbol digit memory test and the selective reminder test.
Patients with MS reported a lower HRQoL than the controls with a mean physical health summary score of 57.3 compared to 84.5 (P < 0.001), and a mental health summary score of 66.4 vs 79.2 (P < 0.001). The controls scored significantly higher on all SF-36 sub scores except for bodily pain. The incidence of fatigue was 71% in patients compared to 27% in controls (P < 0.001), whereas 46% of patients vs 18% of controls reported depression (P < 0.001). The mean score for apathy was significantly higher among patients.
Patients with recently diagnosed MS reported significantly lower on both physical and mental aspects of HRQoL compared with controls. Depression, fatigue and apathy were more common and more severe in MS. We found no correlation between cognitive decline and HRQoL scores.