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MONDAY, Nov. 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) — More than 50 percent of adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) report some form of caregiver abuse, according to a study published in the November issue of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Elizabeth H. Morrison, M.D., from the Riverside School of Medicine at the University of California, and colleagues examined the incidence and prevalence of caregiver abuse among U.S. adults with advanced MS. The validated Scale to Report Emotional Stress Signs-Multiple Sclerosis and other study measures were administered through an anonymous telephone survey to 206 U.S. adults who had unpaid caregivers for MS-related disability.

The researchers found that 54.9 percent of respondents disclosed undergoing some form of mistreatment since first requiring caregiving, including psychological abuse, financial abuse, neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse (44.2, 25.2, 16.5, 11.2, and 8.3 percent, respectively). Many reported experiencing multiple forms of mistreatment. Less social support, more alcohol use, and higher levels of fatigue and cognitive impairment were reported by mistreated respondents. Mistreatment risk was increased with daily caregiving. The likelihood of being abusive or neglectful was increased 13-fold for caregivers with mental illness. The risk for mistreatment was nearly tripled with poor premorbid relationships with caregivers; risk was doubled with any significant alcohol use history for people with MS or their caregivers.

“Mistreatment is occurring out there for people with MS and other disabling conditions,” Morrison said in a statement. “Health care professionals should maintain a high index of suspicion. We can’t assume that all people with advanced MS are living in safe situations, even if they don’t bring up their concerns on their own.”

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