Int J Psychiatry Med 2002;32(2):155-65
Patten SB, Metz LM.
Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary MS Clinic, Alberta, Canada.
Two recent randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trials of interferon beta-1a in multiple sclerosis have obtained hopelessness ratings using the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS). One of these studies, the PRISMS trial, evaluated interferon beta-1a in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Another, the SPECTRIMS trial, evaluated the same medication in secondary progressive (SP) MS. The objective of this analysis was to compare levels of hopelessness in persons with RRMS and SPMS, and to describe changes over time in the clinical trial participants.
Raw data from each clinical trial was obtained from the sponsor of the trials (Serono). Median BHS ratings, and the proportions at or above the BHS cut-point of 10 were calculated over a two (PRISMS) or three (SPECTRIMS) year period.
The analysis included n = 532 clinical trial participants. Ratings of hopelessness were higher in SPMS clinical trial participants (SPECTRIMS) than in the RRMS group (PRISMS) at baseline (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.0035). Furthermore, ratings of hopelessness were higher during follow-up than at baseline, in the SPMS group (McNemar's exact probability,p = 0.0015), but not in the RRMS group (McNemar's exact probability,p = 0.65). Depression was strongly associated with hopelessness in both RRMS (z = 4.13, p < 0.001) and SPMS (z = 5.24, p < 0.001).
Hopelessness is associated with SPMS, and may increase over time in this group. Hopelessness may influence suicide risk in people with MS and may potentially have an impact on coping and quality of life. Additional research is necessary to define the clinical implications of hopelessness in persons with this condition.