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Effect of desire for pregnancy on decisions to escalate treatment in multiple sclerosis care: Differences between MS specialists and non-MS specialists

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • Gustavo Saposnik
  • Sanketh Andhavarapu
  • Óscar Fernández
  • Ho Jin Kim
  • Heinz Wiendl
  • Mona Foss
  • Fei Zuo
  • Eva Kubala Havrdová
  • Elisabeth Gulowsen Celius
  • Fernando Caceres
  • Melinda Magyari
  • Robert Bermel
  • Andreia Costa
  • Maria Terzaghi
  • Tomas Kalincik
  • Veronica Popescu
  • Maria Pia Amato
  • Xavier Montalban
  • Jiwon Oh
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BACKGROUND: Therapeutic inertia (TI) is a worldwide phenomenon that affects 60 to 90% of neurologists and up to 25% of daily treatment decisions during management of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. A large volume of MS patients are women of childbearing age, and desire for pregnancy is a complex variable often affecting MS care. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of desire for pregnancy on decisions to escalate treatment during management of MS patients.

METHODS: 300 neurologists with expertise in MS from 20 countries were invited to participate in the study. Participants were presented with 12 pairs of simulated MS patient profiles reflective of case scenarios encountered in clinical practice. Participants were asked to select the ideal candidate for treatment escalation from modest to higher-efficacy therapies. Disaggregated discrete choice experiments were used to estimate the weight of factors and attributes affecting physicians' decisions when considering treatment selection. An excel calculator that provides estimates as the percentage of participants that would escalate treatment for a simulated case-scenario was constructed.

RESULTS: 229 (76.3%) completed the study. The mean age (SD) of study participants was 44 (±10) years. The mean (SD) number of MS patients seen per month by each neurologist was 18 (±16). Non-MS specialists were significantly less likely to escalate treatment than MS specialists across mild, moderate, and severe patient cases. These differences were accentuated when case scenarios introduced a desire for pregnancy. The findings were consistent when MRI-lesions, severity of symptoms, and number of relapses were included.

CONCLUSIONS: Desire for pregnancy differentially influences decisions to escalate treatment, suggesting knowledge-to-action gaps between MS and non-MS specialists. Our findings indicate the need for educational strategies to overcome these gaps and improve clinical outcomes for MS patients who desire pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103389
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Pages (from-to)103389
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Adult, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis/drug therapy, Neurologists, Pregnancy, Specialization

ID: 79806923