Research: MS can influence the well being of Partners

Giordano A, Ferrari G, Radice D, Randi G, Bisanti L, Solari A; on behalf of the POSMOS study. Health-related quality of life and depressive symptoms in significant others of people with multiple sclerosis: a community study. Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jan. [Epub]

Background and purpose: 
Uncertain prognosis and modest treatment efficacy make multiple sclerosis (MS) a particularly difficult disease to adjust to for both patients and their significant others (SOs). Few studies have assessed health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and depressive symptoms in SOs of people with MS in the community. We assessed, and identified predictors of, HRQOL and depression in SOs of adults with MS.

Methods:  POSMOS (postal survey of self-assessed health in MS adults and SOs) is a longitudinal survey on a random sample of 251 people with MS in the Milan area. In 2010, SOs and contemporaneous controls completed the SF-36 and Chicago Multiscale Depression Inventory (CMDI).

Results:  Overall, 142 SOs (mean age 53.1 years; 50% women, 65% partners) and 120 controls (similar to SOs for sex and education, but older) participated.

By multivariable modeling of the SO plus control population, SF-36 vitality was lower in SOs (proportional odds ratio 0.45; 95% confidence interval 0.28-0.70), women (0.41; 0.27-0.64), and older subjects (0.98; 0.97-0.99). SF-36 mental health was also lower in SOs (0.62; 0.40-0.96) and women (0.43; 0.28-0.67). Regarding MS characteristics associated with HRQOL and depression in SOs, severe disability [Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS over 6.5)] had no effect, whilst depressive symptoms (pathologic CMDI) negatively influenced most SF-36 and all CMDI scores in SOs .

SOs had significantly lower vitality and psychological well-being than controls, identifying a burden in being the companion of a person with MS. This burden was unrelated to physical compromise but associated with depressive symptoms in MS the more depression in MS the greater impact was felt by their signficant other (partner, friend, etc. etc.).

The conclusions say it all. MS does not just take its toll on yourself but it can have an impact on the people that care for you most. Whilst it appears that is not so much the physical aspect that can affect your partners and carers, if you are depressed then it not only affects yourself but others around you.

Whats does an odds ratio of 0.98 95% confidence interval of 0.97-0.99 difference in older people mean for example. It means that there on the whole there is 0.02 difference between SOs of MS verse non Msers and that 95% of SOs of MSers people are between 0.01- 0.03 times lower than older SOs of non-MSers. So in this case not much of a difference if any for this subset of people