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Neurology. 2000 Nov 14;55(9):1341-9.

Management of multiple sclerosis across managed care and fee-for-service systems.

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Department of Neurology, University of California at Los Angeles, 90095-1769, USA.



To measure and compare care for adults with MS across managed care and fee-for-service (FFS) health systems.


The authors sampled adults with MS having physician visits over a 2-year period from a group model health maintenance organization (HMO) in southern California, from a midwestern independent practice association (IPA) model managed care plan, and from the FFS portion of the practices of a random sample of southern California neurologists. The authors mailed surveys to subjects in mid-1996; 930 of 1,164 (80%) of those eligible responded. The authors measured sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, management of recent changes in mobility, bladder control, and fatigue, use of a disease-modifying agent, assessment of general health symptoms and issues, and unmet information needs. The authors adjusted comparisons between systems for comorbidity, disease severity, and disease type.


The groups differed on most sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. There were few differences in symptom management; differences that did exist tended toward more referrals or treatment for the FFS group. Access to the disease-modifying agent available at the time of the survey did not differ across systems, although patients' perceptions of the rationale for not using the drug did vary. General health issues and symptoms were more often assessed in the FFS and IPA systems than in the HMO, but improvement was needed across all three systems of care. There were substantial unmet information needs in all groups and especially high ones in the FFS and HMO samples.


Strategies to improve care for people with MS should be developed and evaluated, particularly in areas like symptom assessment and meeting patient information needs. Where variations in service delivery exist, longitudinal studies are also needed to evaluate the potential impact on outcomes and to evaluate reasons for variation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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