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Medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull, M.D. on Oct. 7, 2023

According to a recent study, lower socioeconomic status is linked to higher mortality rates in multiple sclerosis patients.

  • Researchers used a large, population-based cohort to study mortality trends.
  • Overcoming disparities in socioeconomic status could lead to improved survival rates for people with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects millions globally, but the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and mortality in people with MS is poorly understood. According to a recent study published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal, lower SES is significantly associated with higher mortality risk among people with MS. This study used health-administrative data to identify 12,126 people with MS with an onset of symptoms between 1994 and 2017.

Navigating the Data: A Deep Dive Into the Research Methods

The researchers employed Cox proportional hazard models to examine the association between socioeconomic quintiles and mortality risk. SES was categorized into quintiles ranging from the least affluent (SES-Q1) to the most affluent (SES-Q5). Adjusted hazard ratios revealed that people with MS in lower SES categories had a higher mortality risk compared to those in higher SES categories. For example, the most economically deprived group (SES-Q1) had a 61% higher mortality risk compared to the least deprived group (SES-Q5).

Mortality Gradient Across SES Quintiles: Implications for Patient Care

The study demonstrated a clear gradient of mortality risk across SES quintiles. These findings are broadly consistent with two studies that reported SES as an independent risk factor for mortality in people with MS in Canada. Such results may be due to a complex interplay of factors like barriers to healthcare access, chronic and severe comorbidities, and perhaps other lifestyle-related factors.

Clinical Relevance: Bridging the Gap in Patient Outcomes

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For healthcare providers, this study highlights the importance of considering SES as an influential factor for outcomes in people with MS. Lower SES may not only be a risk factor for disease onset and progression but also for mortality. Clinicians may need to adopt a more comprehensive approach that includes socioeconomic considerations in the diagnosis, treatment, and long-term management of MS to bridge healthcare disparities and improve survival outcomes.


Calocer, F., Ng, H. S., Zhu, F., Zhao, Y., Dejardin, O., Leray, E., Defer, G., Evans, C., Fisk, J. D., Marrie, R. A., & Tremlett, H. (2022). Low socioeconomic status was associated with a higher mortality risk in multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 29(3), 466–470. https://doi.org/10.1177/13524585221129963