Aurora, Colo. – , according to on patient-reported health inequities presented at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.
”Equal access to and quality of care are critical for managing a progressive disease such as multiple sclerosis,” said Chris Hardy, of Publicis Health Media, and her associates. “Despite increased awareness of health outcome disparities in the U.S., certain patients still experience inequities in care.”
The researchers sent emails to members of
A ‘widespread and significant problem’
“This study is important in pointing out the unfortunate, obvious [fact] that lack of access and lack of availability to treatment is still a widespread and significant problem in this country,” commented Mark Gudesblatt, MD, a neurologist at South Shore Neurologic Associates who was not involved in the study. “Improving effective treatment of disease requires a more granular understanding of disease impact on a quantitative, multidimensional, objective patient-centric approach,” he added. “Racial and ethnic barriers to effective treatment cannot be allowed nor tolerated. We need to be more acutely aware that outreach, digital health, and remote assessments are tools that we need to incorporate to improve access and do better.”
The pervasive impact of MS
Overall, 85% of respondents reported that MS made it harder to do everyday chores, and 84% said their MS made it harder to exercise and interfered with their everyday life. Similarly high proportions of respondents reported that their MS causes them a lot of stress (80%), makes them feel anxious or depressed (77%), disrupts their work/employment (75%), and interferes with their social life (75%). In addition, more than half said their diagnosis negatively affects their family (59%) and makes them feel judged (53%).
Deanne Power, RN, MSCN, the lead nurse care partner at Octave Bioscience, who spoke as a representative of the study authors, said it’s critical that clinicians be aware of the health inequities that exist among their patient population.
“Some patients have lower income or language issues where English is not their primary language, and they don’t have access and are even afraid to call doctor or reach out [for help],” Ms. Power said. “If providers aren’t actively aware of these situations and talk to their patients, they can’t just say, ‘Oh, well, I just want you to go fill this prescription,’ when they don’t have money to put food on their table. Providers have got to know their patients as [more than] just an MS patient. This is a human being in front of you, and you better know what their life is like, because it’s impacting their MS.”