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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(5):935-936

Clinical Question: How do patients with multiple sclerosis rate their quality of life?

Setting: Population-based

Study Design: Cross-sectional

Synopsis: Using the Mayo Clinic disease registry, researchers identified all patients in Olmstead County, Minn., who had a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, regardless of where the patients obtained their care. The research team then invited the 201 patients to be interviewed and examined in a clinical setting. They also evaluated patients at home, in nursing homes, or by telephone. Among the various assessments, all patients were asked to complete a Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life (MSQOL) survey.

The majority (140 patients) had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and only 11 patients had primary progressive multiple sclerosis. The MSQOL survey was completed by 92 percent of the patients. When compared with the U.S. general population, the patients with multiple sclerosis had slightly lower quality of life scores for three of the MSQOL dimensions: physical functioning, vitality, and general health. The scores were surprisingly similar, however, for many other dimensions, including pain, emotion, mental health, and social functioning.

Bottom Line: When asked about their quality of life, patients with multiple sclerosis rate it a little lower than the general population does in some areas (i.e., general health, physical functioning, and vitality). However, in other aspects of their lives, the ratings are comparable with those of the general population. Because this study was done in a relatively wealthy and homogeneous county, these findings may not apply in other settings. (Level of Evidence: 2c)

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by Essential Evidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, editor-in-chief.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.

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