J Neurosci Nurs. 2003 Dec; 35(6): 314-20
Fraser C, Stark S.
Marjorie K. Unterberg School of Nursing at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ, USA.
There are inconsistencies in the literature regarding the prevalence of cognitive impairment among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The purpose of this study was to examine perceived cognitive impairment in secondary progressive and relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) and to examine the relationship between level of disability, age, and number of years with MS and self-reported cognitive symptoms.
The sample consisted of 447 individuals (96 participants with secondary progressive MS and 351 participants with MS) who responded to mailed data collection instruments.
The Performance Scales, a self-report measure of disability in eight domains of function, and a sociodemographic data sheet were analyzedfor this study.
Of individuals with secondary progressive MS, 83% reported cognitive symptoms, while 82% of individuals with relapsing-remitting MS reported cognitive symptoms.
Individuals with secondary progressive MS were reportedly experiencing a significantly greater level of total disability.
A statistically significant, strong, positive relationship was found between cognitive symptoms and fatigue for those with secondary progressive MS and those with relapsing-remitting MS.
Statistically significant, moderate, positive relationships were also found between cognitive symptoms in those with secondary progressive MS and those with relapsing-remitting MS, and sensory symptoms, vision, hand function, bladder/bowel symptoms, and spasticity.
A statistically significant, weak, positive relationship was found between cognitive symptoms and mobility in individuals with relapsing-remitting MS.
There was no relationship between cognitive symptoms and mobility in those with secondary progressive MS.
Cognitive symptoms were not significantly related to age in those with secondary progressive MS or those with relapsing-remitting MS.
In addition, cognitive symptoms were not significantly related to the number of years with MS in individuals with secondary progressive MS or those with relapsing-remitting MS.
The perception of cognitive deficits in individuals with MS was found in this study to be even more prevalent than previously reported.
Because cognitive deficits occur at all stages of MS, early identification and treatment is essential.
Healthcare providers must aggressively screen for cognitive impairment and rehabilitate individuals with MS who exhibit symptoms.