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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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The association of selected multiple sclerosis symptoms with disability and quality of life: a large Danish self-report survey

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BACKGROUND: People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience a wide range of unpredictable and variable symptoms. The symptomatology of MS has previously been reported in large sample registry studies; however, some symptoms may be underreported in registries based on clinician-reported outcomes and how the symptoms are associated with quality of life (QoL) are often not addressed. The aim of this study was to comprehensively evaluate the frequency of selected MS related symptoms and their associations with disability and QoL in a large self-report study.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire survey among all patients at the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Center, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark. The questionnaire included information on clinical and sociodemographic characteristics, descriptors of QoL and disability, as well as prevalence and severity of the following MS symptoms: impaired ambulation, spasticity, chronic pain, fatigue, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and sleep disturbances.

RESULTS: Questionnaires were returned by 2244/3606 (62%). Participants without MS diagnosis or incomplete questionnaires were excluded, n = 235. A total of 2009 questionnaires were included for analysis (mean age 49.4 years; mean disease duration 11.7 years; and 69% were women). The most frequently reported symptoms were bowel and bladder dysfunction (74%), fatigue (66%), sleep disturbances (59%), spasticity (51%) and impaired ambulation (38%). With exception of fatigue and sleep disturbances, all other symptoms increased in severity with higher disability level. Invisible symptoms (also referred to as hidden symptoms) such as fatigue, pain and sleep disturbances had the strongest associations with the overall QoL.

CONCLUSION: We found invisible symptoms highly prevalent, even at mild disability levels. Fatigue, pain and sleep disturbances had the strongest associations with the overall QoL and were more frequently reported in our study compared with previous registry-based studies. These symptoms may be underreported in registries based on clinician reported outcomes, which emphasizes the importance of including standardized patient reported outcomes in nationwide registries to better understand the impact of the symptom burden in MS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number317
JournalBMC Neurology
Volume21
Issue number1
Number of pages12
ISSN1471-2377
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Cross-Sectional Studies, Denmark/epidemiology, Fatigue/epidemiology, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis/complications, Quality of Life, Self Report, Surveys and Questionnaires

ID: 75774950