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Mult Scler. 2013 Sep;19(10):1349-54. doi: 10.1177/1352458513476742. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Symptom overlap in anxiety and multiple sclerosis.

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1
School of Psychology, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The validity of self-rated anxiety inventories in people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) is unclear. However, the appropriateness of self-reported depression scales has been widely examined. Given somatic symptom overlap between depression and MS, research emphasises caution when using such scales.

OBJECTIVE:

This study evaluates symptom overlap between anxiety and MS in a group of 33 individuals with MS, using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

METHODS:

Participants underwent a neurological examination and completed the BAI.

RESULTS:

A novel procedure using hierarchical cluster analysis revealed three distinct symptom clusters. Cluster one ('wobbliness' and 'unsteady') grouped separately from all other BAI items. These symptoms are well-recognised MS-related symptoms and we question whether their endorsement in pwMS can be considered to reflect anxiety. A modified 19-item BAI (mBAI) was created which excludes cluster one items. This removal reduced the number of MS participants considered 'anxious' by 21.21% (low threshold) and altered the level of anxiety severity for a further 27.27%.

CONCLUSION:

Based on these data, it is suggested that, as with depression measures, researchers and clinicians should exercise caution when using brief screening measures for anxiety in pwMS.

KEYWORDS:

Beck Anxiety Inventory; Multiple sclerosis; anxiety; neuropsychology; symptom overlap

PMID:
23413298
DOI:
10.1177/1352458513476742
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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