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Keywords:

  • discontinuation;
  • disease-modifying treatment;
  • disease-related stress;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • non-starters;
  • stoppers

Objectives

To explore the frequency of non-starters and stoppers of disease-modifying therapy (DMT) in a cohort of people recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to identify reasons for non-starting or stopping DMT measured by demographic variables, social support [The Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL)] and disease-related stress [The Impact of Event Scale (IES)].

Materials and methods

A multicentre retrospective cohort study using postal surveys completed by people with MS was performed, comprising all patients diagnosed with MS during 2000–2007 at four university clinics in Norway.

Results

Of the 424 respondents, 180 (42%) were still using the first prescribed DMT, 83 (20%) were using DMT after switching DMT at least once, 53 (12.5%) had ended DMT, and 108 (25.5%) had never started DMT. The risk of non-starting DMT was associated with increasing age at diagnosis, the region, disease-related stress and avoidant trauma coping. The risk factors for stopping therapy after the first prescribed DMT were adverse events and high education.

Conclusions

Disease-related stress, avoidant trauma coping, age at diagnosis and education should be considered when motivating people with MS to use DMT. Hence, the challenges to starting and continuing treatment will probably also remain a problem with orally administered DMT.