Multiple sclerosis is perceived differently by the patient and physician â€“ after all, theyâ€™re in two different boats. However, this disconnect could make managing the disease a more complicated journey.
Multiple sclerosis is perceived differently by the patient and physician — after all, they’re in two different boats. However, this disconnect could make managing the disease a more complicated journey.
Researchers from Turkey set out to better understand the varying perceptions and what they imply. The findings were presented at the 32nd Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS 2016) in London, England.
The cohort consisted of 208 patients with multiple sclerosis and 176 neurologists. All participants were asked the same 25 questions. The patients answered them about their own diagnosis, signs and symptoms, laboratory tests, adherence, alternative medicine use, and treatment expectations, however, the physicians answered as how they thought their patients would.
“As opposed to neurologists, patients consider radiological investigations to be more important than physical examination during their management,” the authors explained.
Based on the survey results, neurologists have a more pessimistic outlook on how multiple sclerosis symptoms impact patients’ quality of life when compared to the patients.
Patients said that the most debilitating symptom was fatigue, but neurologists said that motor deficits was the top one. This could mean that patients and physicians have different treatment goals and expectations which makes their time together not as productive as it could be.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination can indicate an abnormal immune response within the central nervous system and, thus, helping doctors diagnose multiple sclerosis. Patients who thought that it may cause severe headaches, nerve damages, and worsening symptoms measured in at 39%, 36%, and 16%, respectively. When neurologists were asked how many of their patients missed a dose of treatment during the last month, the mean came in at 24%. However, the actual noncompliance rate was 36%.
The team continued by looking at treatment perceptions versus reality. Corticosteroid treatment can trigger other health conditions with long-term use. Patients said that the most important side effect was osteoporosis, but neurologists said that uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension topped their concerns. One-third of patients also thought that they would be able to stop their treatment at some point.
Filling in the discrepancies, such as the ones found in this study, can help improve the patient-physician relationship which is so important when managing a chronic illness.
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