Determinants of quality of life in relapsing-remitting and progressive multiple sclerosis

Published:January 30, 2019DOI:


      • Factors associated with higher quality of life in MS were.
      • University education, RRMS, shorter disease duration, less depression/psychological distress.
      • No significant effects for physical disability, cognitive impairment or fatigue.
      • Focusing treatment on mental comorbidity could increase quality of life in MS.



      Numerous factors can affect multiple sclerosis (MS) patients' quality of life (QoL). We investigated how physical impairment, upper extremity function, cognitive impairment, cognitive reserve, symptoms of psychological distress, depression, fatigue as well as age and disease duration contribute to patient-reported measures of QoL in relapse-remitting MS (RRMS) and progressive MS (PMS).


      39 patients with RRMS and 16 patients with PMS were evaluated for physical impairment (EDSS assessed by a neurologist), upper extremity function (9-hole peg test), cognitive deficits (broad neuropsychological test battery), cognitive reserves (highest obtained degree of education and vocabulary), symptoms of psychological distress (Symptom Checklist-90-R), depression (Beck Depression Inventory) and fatigue (Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Functions). The effects of these variables on QoL, as measured with the EQ-5D-3L, were tested with a multivariate analysis of variance.


      Degree of education, MS disease type, disease duration, BDI and SCL-90-R-scores affected significantly the EQ-5D index. Post-hoc analysis revealed that patients with university education, RRMS, shorter disease duration as well as less depression and psychological distress symptoms had significantly higher EQ-5D indices. No significant effects were observed for measures of physical disability, cognitive impairment or fatigue.


      Depression and psychological distress symptoms are among the factors with the most essential impact on subjective well-being in MS patients. Since they can be targeted by both psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment, focusing on mental comorbidity could substantially increase QoL in MS.


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