Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2016 Mar 31;97(3):386-94. Epub 2015 Oct 31.
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Objective: To determine the frequency and severity of 8 symptoms in persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to examine the association between these symptoms and community integration and mental health.
Design: Cross-sectional survey that assessed 8 symptoms (pain, fatigue, imbalance, numbness, weakness, shortness of breath, vision loss, and memory loss), disease progression (self-report version of the Expanded Disability Status Scale), community integration, and mental health.
Participants: Adults with self-reported MS who responded to a mailed survey (N=180).
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main Outcome Measures: The presence and intensity of symptoms were measured with a symptoms checklist. Community integration was assessed with the Community Integration Questionnaire, and mental health was measured by the Mental Health Index of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey.
Results: The average number of symptoms reported was 5.07±2.18. The most common symptoms (fatigue, weakness, and imbalance) were also rated as the most severe. Not all symptoms were associated with level of disease progression or with MS subtype. Symptoms related to mobility were more likely to be associated with these variables. The 8 symptoms as a whole accounted for significant amounts of variance (range, 13%-21%) in measures of community integration and mental health, with specific symptoms making differential independent contributions to these measures.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that most individuals with MS report a number of bothersome symptoms. Type of MS or level of progression does not tell the whole story regarding the impact of symptoms.