Study links MS disability progression to income, education

February 27, 2019
New research suggests income, and education level are associated with risk of disability progression in patients with multiple sclerosis. The findings paint a clearer picture of the way that wealth and education might affect patients with MS.

University of British Columbia researchers, along with colleagues in Wales, compared population health data across several measures of socioeconomic status, and found that lower neighborhood-level income and educational attainment was associated with an increased likelihood of reaching key physical disability milestones, such as difficulties with walking.

As the Welsh and Canadian systems for tracking population health data are similar, the team was able to access comparable information for the two groups of patients. For the Canadian patients, the team determined socioeconomic status based on census data, which links postal codes with neighborhood-level income. Clinical information from a regional MS database was linked with population-based regional health administrative data. The Welsh patients were assessed by linking similar datasets, including National Health Service information, postal code-related income data and educational attainment.

A key component of this study was that the data on socioeconomic status were captured before MS onset, therefore predating any possible effect of the disease itself on socioeconomic status. The researchers did not look at specific factors that might explain the relationship between lower socioeconomic status and higher risk of disability progression, but they suggest that modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, could be involved.

The researchers hope that future MS studies will consider the socioeconomic status of participants, especially if multiple study sites are involved and findings are compared across regions, as their socioeconomic status could be an important factor in disability progression.

The findings were published online today in Neurology.

MS Focus Lending Library


Books, DVDs, and CDs are available for loan, by mail across the United States.
Learn more

Study uncovers potential risks of common MS treatment


Study finds an increased risk of events such as stroke, migraine, and depression, and abnormalities in the blood with taking beta interferon for MS.
Learn more

BMI, but not age at puberty, tied to MS risk

March 22, 2019

If so, this could be another important reason for public health initiatives to focus on lowering obesity rates.
Learn more