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Global barriers to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

Solomon, Andrew J., Marrie, Ruth Ann, Viswanathan, Shanthi, Correale, Jorge, Magyari, Melinda, Robertson, Neil P. ORCID:, Saylor, Deanna R., Kaye, Wendy, Rechtman, Lindsay, Bae, Eunchan, Shinohara, Russell, King, Rachel, Laurson-Doube, Joanna and Helme, Anne 2023. Global barriers to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Neurology 101 (6) , e624-e635. 10.1212/WNL.0000000000207481

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Background and Objectives: Recent data suggest increasing global prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS). Early diagnosis of MS reduces the burden of disability-adjusted life years and associated health care costs. Yet diagnostic delays persist in MS care and even within national health care systems with robust resources, comprehensive registries, and MS subspecialist referral networks. The global prevalence and characteristics of barriers to expedited MS diagnosis, particularly in resource-restricted regions, have not been extensively studied. Recent revisions to MS diagnostic criteria demonstrate potential to facilitate earlier diagnosis, but global implementation remains largely unknown. Methods: The Multiple Sclerosis International Federation third edition of the Atlas of MS was a survey that assessed the current global state of diagnosis including adoption of MS diagnostic criteria; barriers to diagnosis with respect to the patient, health care provider, and health system; and existence of national guidelines or national standards for speed of MS diagnosis. Results: Coordinators from 107 countries (representing approximately 82% of the world population), participated. Eighty-three percent reported at least 1 “major barrier” to early MS diagnosis. The most frequently reported barriers included the following: “lack of awareness of MS symptoms among general public” (68%), “lack of awareness of MS symptoms among health care professionals” (59%), and “lack of availability of health care professionals with knowledge to diagnose MS” (44%). One-third reported lack of “specialist medical equipment or diagnostic tests.” Thirty-four percent reported the use of only 2017 McDonald criteria (McD-C) for diagnosis, and 79% reported 2017 McD-C as the “most commonly used criteria.” Sixty-six percent reported at least 1 barrier to the adoption of 2017 McD-C, including “neurologists lack awareness or training” by 45%. There was no significant association between national guidelines pertaining to MS diagnosis or practice standards addressing the speed of diagnosis and presence of barriers to early MS diagnosis and implementation of 2017 McD-C. Discussion: This study finds pervasive consistent global barriers to early diagnosis of MS. While these barriers reflected a lack of resources in many countries, data also suggest that interventions designed to develop and implement accessible education and training can provide cost-effective opportunities to improve access to early MS diagnosis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
ISSN: 0028-3878
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 August 2023
Date of Acceptance: 18 April 2023
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2023 20:20

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