April 23, 2019

Disability and disease progression in multiple sclerosis is linked to income and education


Researchers found that people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who live in neighbourhoods with lower levels of income and education were associated with a higher risk of disability progression.

Overview of Research:

Dr. Helen Tremlett at the University of British Columbia and team looked at health and clinical data from over 3,000 people with MS in Canada and the United Kingdom to determine whether socioeconomic status affects disease trajectory. Socioeconomic status is a measure of influences like social standing (or class) of an individual or group and is often measured as education, income and occupation. Research from other chronic disease conditions, like cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, have shown that people with lower socioeconomic status tend to have worse health outcomes. To determine whether socioeconomic status affects people living with MS, researchers tracked decades of data such as the date of MS diagnosis, disability status (also called EDSS) over time, and onset of secondary progressive MS (SPMS).

Researchers found that individuals with lower socioeconomic status (less education and lower income) were associated with a higher risk of disability progression and poorer prognosis. For example, they reached physical disability milestones faster, like difficulty walking and transitioned to SPMS faster. While more research is needed to further understand this link, it may include modifiable factors such as lifestyle and comorbidities which could lead to more effective treatment strategies and programs.

Read more about the research in Neurology- link

Read more in Neurology – What is the impact of socioeconomic status on multiple sclerosis? Devon S. Conway - link

*The first author, Katharine E. Harding, was supported by a MS Society of Canada Doctoral Fellowship