A recent study sheds light on independent influences of risks and benefits when patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) make hypothetical treatment decisions. Furthermore, researchers examine how individual differences in this probability discounting function are associated with patient demographics, clinical characteristics, disease knowledge, neuropsychiatric status, and adherence. 208 participants with relapsing-remitting MS indicated their likelihood (0–100%) of taking a hypothetical medication as the probability of mild side effects (11 values from .1 to 99.9%) and reported medication efficacies (11 values from .1 to 99.9%) varied systematically. They also completed a series of questionnaires and cognitive tests. Researchers found:
- Individual components of medication treatment decision making were successfully described with a probability discounting model.
- High rates of discounting based on risks were associated with poor treatment adherence and less disease-specific knowledge.
- In contrast, high rates of discounting of benefits was associated with poorer cognitive functioning.
- Regression models indicated that risk discounting predicted unique variance in treatment adherence.
Bruce JM, Bruce AS, Lynch S, et al. Probability discounting of treatment decisions in multiple sclerosis: Associations with disease knowledge, neuropsychiatric status, and adherence. [Published online ahead of print September 22, 2018]. Psychopharmacology. doi:10.1007/s00213-018-5037-y.