The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, in collaboration with EMD Serono, released findings from a nationwide GfK Roper survey on May 27, MS Viewpoints: Understanding the Outlook on Emerging Therapies in conjunction with the first-ever World MS Day. The MS Viewpoints survey compared the perspectives of neurologists, MS nurses and other healthcare professionals (HCPs)* and people living with MS on treatments, psychosocial burdens of the disease, and delays in starting treatment. Results from the survey uncovered that people newly diagnosed with MS often delay starting treatment, citing fear or anxiety about current treatment options as a key reason.

At the National MS Society, we stress the importance of early treatment. It's critical for physicians and people living with MS to sit down early and have a candid conversation about an individual's concerns, fears and options for treatment, said Dr. Nicholas LaRocca, vice president, health care delivery and policy research, National MS Society. World MS Day provides an opportunity to unite internationally and raise global awareness of MS and its impact on people living with the disease starting at diagnosis.

Results from the survey revealed that nearly 20% of people living with MS reported delaying the start of treatment for a variety of reasons, including fear or anxiety over treatment. Differences emerged between physicians and people living with MS about how much this fear affects their lives. In the survey, the majority of physicians, and MS nurses and other HCPs reported that anxiety around treatment impacts people living with MS a great deal or somewhat compared to less than half of those living with the disease who expressed such views.

*Nursing and other HCPs survey participants included: registered nurses, certified medical assistants, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians' assistants and certified nurse specialists

Patient and physician dialogue has come a long way in recent years, but there is still work to be done, said Harold Moses Jr., MD, assistant professor of Neurology at Vanderbilt University. As new therapies are approved and enter the market, we expect to see more discussion about whether these options are right for patients. In fact, the entire patient/physician dialogue may start to shift.

The MS Viewpoints survey uncovered that while individuals currently on treatment report being generally satisfied with their treatment, nearly one-third (33%) of people living with MS reported that their current MS treatment interferes with their quality of life and daily activities such as work/career, exercise routine and sleeping habits, topics that are more likely to be discussed by their MS nurse or other HCP than by their physician.

The dialogue between a person living with MS and a nurse or other healthcare provider is important because it often focuses on the impact of MS on day-to-day activities, said Amy Perrin-Ross, APN, MSN, CNRN, MSCN, neuroscience program coordinator, Loyola University Chicago, and president of the International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses (IOMSN). Perhaps this is why the survey showed that nurses and other HCPs were more likely than physicians to believe people with MS who initially delayed starting their prescribed MS therapy would have instead started therapy more quickly if an oral medication had been available.