Assessment of subjective quality of life (QOL) of persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) could facilitate the detection of psychosocial aspects of disease that may otherwise go unrecognized. The objectives of the study were to (i) compare the QOL ratings of relapsing remitting (RRMS) and progressive (PMS) types of MS with those of a general population group and the impression of their family caregivers; and (ii) assess the association of demographic, clinical, treatment, depression, and caregiver variables with patients' QOL.
Consecutive clinic attendees at the national neurology hospital were assessed with the 26 -item WHOQOL Instrument, Beck's Depression Inventory and Expanded Disability Scale. Caregivers rated their impression of patients' QOL and attitudes to patients' illness.
The 170 patients (60 m, 109 f) consisted of 145(85.3%) with RRMS and 25 with PMS, aged 32.4(SD 8.8), age at onset 27.1(7.7), EDSS score 2.9 (1.8), and 76% were employed. The patients were predominantly dissatisfied with their life circumstances. The RRMS group had higher QOL domain scores (P < 0.001), and lower depression(P > 0.05) and disability (P < 0.0001) scores than the PMS group. Patients had significantly lower QOL scores than the control group (P < 0.001). Caregiver impression was significantly correlated with patients' ratings. Depression was the commonest significant covariate of QOL domains. When we controlled for depression and disability scores, differences between the two MS groups became significant for only one (out of 6) QOL domains. Patients who were younger, better educated, employed, felt less sick and with lesser side effects, had higher QOL. The predictors of patients' overall QOL were disability score, caregiver impression of patients' QOL, and caregiver fear of having MS.
Our data indicate that MS patients in stable condition and with social support can hope to have better QOL, if clinicians pay attention to depression, disability, the impact of side effects of treatment and family caregiver anxieties about the illness. The findings call for a regular program of psychosocial intervention in the clinical setting, to address these issues and provide caregiver education and supports, in order to enhance the quality of care.