Survey: COVID-19 has minimal emotional effect for people with progressive MS

September 22, 2020
Researchers conducting a large international study of progressive multiple sclerosis examined the impact of the global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 on their study participants. Compared with pre-COVID baseline assessments, findings from a COVID Impact Survey administered during lockdown showed minimal changes in depression, anxiety, and quality of life, and in the impact of MS symptomatology on activities of daily living.

The authors are Kessler Foundation researchers from Canada, the United States, Italy, the UK, Denmark, and Belgium. The COVID Impact Survey was administered during the suspension of a randomized clinical trial involving 131 participants at 11 sites in the above six countries.

The COVID pandemic has had substantial impact on the general population, raising concern for populations at increased risk for infection, as well as for detrimental psychological and social effects of quarantine and social distancing requirements. The pause in the RCT provided an opportunity for investigators to assess the effect of the pandemic on the population with progressive MS in real time.

Participants from all sites responded to the COVID Impact Survey while under social restrictions from May 2020 to July 2020. COVID infection was reported by 4 percent of participants. Comparing baseline with COVID assessments revealed minimal changes in depression, anxiety, and quality of life. Effect of MS symptomatology on daily life functions was also minimal, except in the small subset with COVID-19 infection, where the effect was significant.

Researchers noted the findings were consistent across different continents. The COVID Impact Survey showed that the majority of participants actively engaged in mental and physical activities during lockdown. 

The article was published in Journal of Neurology.

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