Registries have the potential to tackle some of the current limitations in determining the long-term impact of multiple sclerosis. Online assessments using patient-reported outcomes can streamline follow-up enabling large-scale, long-term, cost-effective, home-based, and patient-focused data collection. However, registry data are sparsely sampled and the sensitivity of patient-reported outcomes relative to clinician-reported scales is unknown, making it hard to fully leverage their unique scope and scale to derive insights. This retrospective and prospective cohort study over 11 years involved 15 976 patients with multiple sclerosis from the United Kingdom Multiples Sclerosis Register. Primary outcomes were changes in two patient-reported outcomes: Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale motor component, and Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale. First, we investigated their validity in measuring the impact of physical disability in multiple sclerosis, by looking at their sensitivity to disease subtype and duration. We grouped the available records (91 351 for Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale motor and 68 092 for Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale) by these two factors, and statistically compared the resulting groups using a novel approach based on Monte Carlo permutation analysis that was designed to cope with the intrinsic sparsity of registry data. Next, we used the patient-reported outcomes to draw novel insights into the developmental time course of subtypes; in particular, the period preceding the transition from relapsing to progressive forms. We report a robust main effect of disease subtype on the patient-reported outcomes and interactions of disease subtype with duration (all P < 0.0001). Specifically, patient-reported outcomes worsen with disease duration for all subtypes (all P < 0.0001) apart from benign multiple sclerosis (Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale motor: P = 0.796; Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale: P = 0.983). Furthermore, the patient-reported outcomes of each subtype are statistically different from those of the other subtypes at all time bins (Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale motor: all P < 0.05; Multiple Sclerosis Walking Scale: all P < 0.01) except when comparing relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis with benign multiple sclerosis and primary progressive multiple sclerosis with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Notably, there were statistically significant differences between relapsing-remitting and progressive subtypes at disease onset. Critically, the patient-reported outcomes are sensitive to future transitions to progressive subtypes, with individuals who transition presenting with higher patient-reported outcomes in their relapsing-remitting phase compared to individuals who don’t transition since onset (all P < 0.0001). Patient-reported outcomes capture different patterns of physical worsening over disease length and across subtypes; therefore, they are a valid tool to measure the physical impact of multiple sclerosis over the long-term and cost-effectively. Furthermore, more advanced physical disability manifests years before clinical detection of progressive subtypes, adding evidence to the presence of a multiple sclerosis prodrome.



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Brain Communications





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Peninsula Medical School