The MS Choices Survey: findings of a study assessing physician and patient perspectives on living with and managing multiple sclerosis
Alberto Riñon1, Mandy Buch2, Derek Holley2, Elisabetta Verdun1
1Merck Serono S.A. – Geneva, Switzerland, a branch of Merck Serono S.A., Coinsins, Switzerland, an affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany; 2GfK Healthcare, London, UK
Background: Treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) with disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) can reduce relapse frequency and delay disability progression. Although adherence to DMDs is difficult to measure accurately, evidence suggests that poor adherence is common and can compromise treatment success. There are likely to be multiple factors underlying poor adherence. To better understand these factors, the global MS Choices Survey investigated patient and physician perspectives regarding key aspects of MS diagnosis, treatment adherence and persistence, and disease management.
Methods: The survey was conducted in seven countries and involved patients with MS (age 18–60 years; MS diagnosis for ≥1 year; current treatment with a DMD) and physicians (neurologist for 3–30 years; treating ≥15 patients with MS per average month; >60% of time spent in clinical practice). Separate questionnaires were used for physicians and patients, each containing approximately 30 questions.
Results: Questionnaires were completed by 331 patients and 280 physicians. Several differences were observed between the responses of patients and physicians, particularly for questions relating to treatment adherence. Overall, the proportion of patients reporting taking a treatment break (31%) was almost twice that estimated by physicians (on average 17%). The reasons cited for poor adherence also differed between patients and physicians. For example, more physicians cited side effects as the main reason for poor patient adherence (82%), than responding patients (42%).
Conclusions: Physicians may underestimate the scale of poor adherence to DMDs, which could impact on their assessment of treatment efficacy and result in inappropriate treatment escalation. In addition, disparities were identified between patient and physician responses regarding the underlying reasons for poor adherence. Improvements in the dialog between patients and neurologists may increase adherence to DMDs.
Keywords: multiple sclerosis, treatment initiation, management, patient attitudes, adherence
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