People with MS deal with various types of burdensome effects of their disease. This study analyzed these effects in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic had wide-ranging impacts on mental health symptoms and quality of life. This change was apparent in both the general population and those with varying mental and physical conditions. The effects of social distancing measures and other public health restrictions of the pandemic have been underexplored with regards to people living with multiple sclerosis (MS); in particular, in combination with other socioeconomic burdens. This article, published in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders, provides an analysis of stresses on the mental health and quality of life of this population group during the pandemic.
Methods for Measuring Wellbeing Among People With MS
This study used a questionnaire administered to 92 people with MS that included questions about sociodemographic variables, quality of life, mental health determinants, and sleep quality, with the goal of determining how these variables changed during the course of the pandemic. A total of 58.8% of the participants were female, with a median age of 37.1 years. Relapsing-remitting MS was the main clinical subtype. Among the participants, the unemployment rate rose significantly during the pandemic and only 46.4% of participants received medical follow-up care for the duration of the pandemic.
Quality of life was further affected due to limitations in instrumented activities of daily life as well as other factors. These included neuropsychiatric symptoms that required additional care which was unavailable due to the pandemic, anxiety prior to the pandemic, and restricted non-instrumental activities of daily life, all of which predicted worsening MS symptoms during the pandemic. Other factors, such as poor sleep quality and decreased physical and emotional well-being self-care predicted aggravated MS-related psychological impact, as measured by the MSIS-29.
The Psychosocial Burden Among People With MS and the Need for Further Research
The authors conclude by noting that their study at least partially demonstrates the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the well-being of people with MS in both the psychological and physical domains. Although the study has a relatively small sample size, additional studies that gather data from longer timespans and/or have larger sample sizes can provide better data about the needs of this vulnerable group.
Rodríguez-Agudelo, Y., Nava-Adán, J., Paz-Rodríguez, F., Abundes-Corona, A., Flores-Rivera, J., & Corona, T. (2022). Quality of life and mental health in multiple sclerosis patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Mult Scler Relat Disord, 70, 104487. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2022.104487