Study reveals impact of cognitive impairment on quality of life for people living with MS

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) who experience cognitive impairment tend to report a lower quality of mental and physical life compared to those without cognitive issues, according to a recent study. Additionally, adults with MS who face cognitive challenges are less likely to be employed.

Cognitive issues, such as difficulty thinking or memory problems, are common symptoms of MS. Researchers in the U.S. and Canada conducted a 2019 survey of 6,227 participants through the North American Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) registry. Most respondents were white females with an average age in the early 60s, and slightly more than half were 65 or younger.

The survey gathered demographic and clinical information, including measures of cognition and quality of life, using the RAND-12 and HUI-C assessments. The RAND-12 measures life quality on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating better quality. The HUI-C measures cognition on a scale from 0 to 1, with scores below 0.7 suggesting severe cognitive issues.

About 56.4% of participants had cognitive problems: 19.7% mild, 25.6% moderate, and 11.1% severe. There was a significant positive correlation between RAND-12 and HUI-C scores; better life quality was linked to fewer cognitive issues. For every 0.1-point decrease in HUI-C scores, the physical subscore decreased by 0.41 points and the mental subscore by 0.37 points.

Further analyses of participants aged 65 or younger revealed those with cognitive impairment were significantly less likely to be employed. Participants with no or mild cognitive issues were 46.3% more likely to be working compared to those with severe cognitive issues.