Do people with multiple sclerosis want to know their prognosis? A UK nationwide study

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Background Multiple sclerosis (MS) has a varied and uncertain trajectory. The recent development of analytical processing tools that draw on large longitudinal patient databases facilitates personalised long-term prognosis estimates. This has the potential to improve both shared treatment decision-making and psychological adjustment. However, there is limited research on how people with MS feel about prognosis communication and forecasting. This study investigated the prognosis communication experiences and preferences of people with MS and explored whether clinical, demographic and psychological factors are associated with prognosis information preferences. Methods 3175 UK MS Register members (59% of those with active accounts) completed an online survey containing 17 questions about prognosis communication experiences, attitudes and preferences. Participants also completed validated questionnaires measuring coping strategies, tendencies to seek out (‘monitor’) or avoid (‘blunt’) information in threatening situations, and MS risk perceptions and reported their clinical and sociodemographic characteristics. Data already held on the MS Register about participants’ quality of life, anxiety and depression symptoms and MS impact were obtained and linked to the survey data. Results 53.1% of participants had never discussed long-term prognosis with healthcare professionals. 54.2% lacked clarity about their long-term prognosis. 76% had strong preferences for receiving long-term prognosis information. 92.8% were interested in using tools that generate personalised predictions. Most participants considered prognostication useful for decision-making. Participants were more receptive to receiving prognosis information at later time-points, versus at diagnosis. A comprehensive set of sociodemographic, clinical and psychological variables predicted only 7.9% variance in prognosis information preferences Conclusions People with MS have an appetite for individualised long-term prognosis forecasting and their need for information is frequently unmet. Clinical studies deploying and evaluating interventions to support prognostication in MS are now needed. This study indicates suitable contexts and patient preferences for initial trials of long-term prognosis tools in clinical settings.




Dennison, L., Brown, M., Kirby, S., & Galea, I. (2018). Do people with multiple sclerosis want to know their prognosis? A UK nationwide study. PLoS ONE, 13(2).

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