There are a variety of factors besides physical disability—including cognitive, social, and psychological factors—that affect an MS patient’s perception of his or her own quality of life (QOL), according to a new study published in the January 2013 issue of the European Journal of Neurology
Researchers prospectively examined 201 patients with MS attending outpatient clinics and assessed them using an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), an 8-minute walk test, and a Symbol Digit Modality Test. Patients also completed questionnaires about their level of fatigue, living conditions, level of pain, depression, level of education, employment status, and religiosity. Based on these data, scientists computed overall QOL as well as physical and mental health composite scores for each patient.
Five factors were found to be associated with overall perception of QOL: depression, total education years, living area (rural vs urban), religiosity, and level of social support. Through logistic regression, investigators also noticed that unemployment in particular contributed to poor QOL, whereas a low fatigue score best predicted a good QOL.
“Putting emphasis on physical disability alone might not help improving QOL in patients with MS,” concluded the researchers. “Accordingly, we suggest that these factors should be evaluated in every patient with MS as they may be modified by targeted interventions.”