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Health Questionnaires Can Help to Predict "Hard Outcomes" in MS Patients

August 11, 2017

A study finds that patient questionnaires can help predict signs of disease progression and worsening in the neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis (MS). This could help doctors better predict clinical outcomes in patients. But the researchers cautioned that their study, titled “Patient-reported outcomes and survival in multiple sclerosis: A 10-year retrospective cohort study using the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale–29” and published in the journal PLoS Medicine, was not a tool for predicting mortality but a way to help patients be more active participants in their care. “Our research shows that by answering a set series of questions, patients can have an important role in predicting long-term prognosis in diseases like MS, and that these types of questionnaire should be used by doctors to get a better idea of the patient’s health,” Joel Raffel, study’s first author, from the Imperial College London, United Kingdom, said in a university news release written by Ryan O’Hare.

In clinics, patient questionnaires have many uses, but are often under-utilized when people have MS or other neurological diseases “in part because it is not clear if PROs [patient-reported outcomes] relate to ‘hard clinical outcomes’ like disability or mortality,” the team noted. Researchers wanted to determine whether the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale-29 (MSIS-29) might serve as a way of predicting a patient’s risk of death. The MSIS-29 is a 29 question survey assessing quality of life and disease impact over the previous two weeks.

The questionnaire was completed by 2,126 people at the beginning of 2004. Of these, 872 patients repeated it one year later. By 2014, the researchers reported that 264 of the group of MS patients had died, and an evaluation showed that MSIS-29 score were associated with 10-year mortality risk regardless of age, gender, and disability score at the time the questionnaire was completed. The mortality risk rose further among people who MSIS-29 score worsened between the first and second year of answering the questionnaire. The team believes that questionnaire responses, together with usual clinical assessment tools like imaging data through MRI scans, could help doctors and patients choose the best course of treatment.