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J Neurol. 2008 Feb;255(2):157-62. doi: 10.1007/s00415-008-0543-1. Epub 2008 Feb 20.

Self-perceived physical functioning and health status among fully ambulatory multiple sclerosis patients.

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  • 1Istituto di Clinica Neurologica, University of Sassari, Viale San Pietro 10, Sassari, Italy.


We investigated the self-perceived health status among multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with no or mild disability according to the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and the impact of self-rated physical functioning. A sample of fully ambulatory (EDSS < or = 3.5) consecutive patients with MS was included after screening for major cognitive impairment. The EDSS was used to measure nervous system signs or disability, and the self-rated health status was assessed using the SF-36 Health Survey. The normative SF-36 data for the general population of Italy were used for comparison. The 197 MS patients analyzed (150 women and 47 men) had significantly lower mean SF-36 scores than the general population, except for bodily pain. The scores did not differ significantly by gender. The same analysis performed on a subsample of 105 patients (79 women and 26 men) with minimal disability in one functional system (EDSS < or = 2.0) yielded similar results. EDSS was weakly correlated with the physical functioning subscale and explained only 2% of the variance in the physical functioning subscale. The regression of the physical functioning subscale on the other seven SF-36 subscales was significantly lower among MS patients than in the general population for all subscales, except for role limitation due to physical health problems and social functioning. Neither disease course nor duration correlated significantly with SF-36 subscales. The SF-36 physical functioning subscale seemed to indicate physical functioning more sensitively than EDSS. These findings should encourage the implementation of specific strategies aimed at improving the quality of the self-perceived health status already in the early disease stage.

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