The following article is part of conference coverage from the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Berlin, Germany. Neurology Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading experts in neurology. Check back for the latest news from ECTRIMS 2018.

Comorbidities in multiple sclerosis have a significant impact on workforce participation, productivity at work, and daily function and activity, but managing comorbidities can reduce such impairments. This research was recently presented at the 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis, held October 10-12, 2018, in Berlin, Germany.

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Surveys were given out to individuals in the Australian Multiple Sclerosis Longitudinal Study between August and December 2016, which gathered information on 30 comorbidities and their effects. Information was also gathered on acuteness of 13 different symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which were measured using a 0 to 10 rating scale. Cragg hurdle and log-binomial regression were used to analyze data.

This study included 1223 participants with multiple sclerosis, of whom 42% also had depression, 39% anxiety, 37% allergies, 30% elevated blood pressure, 28% migraine, 24% elevated cholesterol, 23% osteoarthritis, 15% cancer, 14% anemia, and 13% osteoporosis. The greatest loss in work productivity was evident among those with osteoporosis at 22.4%, anemia at 20.3%, depression at 17.8%, migraine at 16.5%, and allergies at 16.1%. Those without comorbidities experienced a mean loss in productivity of 7.82%. Relationships in dose and response were evident between the sum of activity-limiting comorbidities and work status (P =.002), loss of work productivity (P =.001), and score for daily activity impairment (P =.001). Multiple sclerosis symptom acuteness showed a relationship with comorbidities, and adjusting for symptom acuteness significantly reduced the association between comorbidities and work outcomes.

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The study researchers concluded that, “The associations between comorbidities and work outcomes were mediated by [multiple sclerosis] symptom severity, indicating that the optimal management of comorbidities may reduce [multiple sclerosis] symptom severity, which in turn may reduce daily activity impairment and improve work outcomes.”

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Chen J. Comorbidities significantly increase daily activity impairment and affect working status and work productivity in people with multiple sclerosis. Presented at: 34th Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis. October 10-12, 2018; Berlin, Germany. Poster P730.