Pandemic led to profound changes in multiple sclerosis clinical practice

Dr. Elizabeth Morrison-Banks is Professor of Neurology in Health Sciences at UC Riverside. Photo credit: C. Rosema.

A survey of multiple sclerosis (MS) clinicians in the United States found that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the way they offer their care.

“Since the pandemic began, more than 95% of our survey participants said they used telemedicine platforms to care for their patients,” said Dr. Elizabeth Morrison-Banks, clinical professor of neurology in health sciences at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, who led the survey, reported in the journal Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders. “Approximately half of those surveyed were MS-specialist neurologists, four in five of whom said COVID-19 has changed the way they recommend and prescribe MS disease-modifying therapies.”

During the pandemic, neurologists who specialize in MS tended to prescribe fewer immunosuppressive drugs. Respondents also commented on their perceived level of safety and support at work during the pandemic. Most reported having access to adequate personal protective equipment, but less than 50% reported having sufficient skills to physically distance themselves at work. Almost 10% of respondents said they were newly deployed, most often at the front of the COVID-19 supply.

“Our results indicate profound changes in MS clinical practice since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Morrison-Banks, who leads the multiple sclerosis program at UCR Health. “When the patterns of clinical practice change, we shouldn’t be surprised if patient outcomes change accordingly.”

Respondents included some of the most highly trained MS specialists in the country who are considered thought leaders for other clinicians in their disciplines.

“Your collective shift in prescribing less immunosuppressive therapies with the highest effectiveness on average could potentially translate into patients with more MS disease activity,” said Morrison-Banks. “However, we do not yet have enough information on COVID-19 outcomes in patients receiving immunosuppressive treatments. We suspect that many respondents may consider the use of certain MS disease-modifying therapies that suppress the immune system, such as B-cell modulation, reject.” Agents – because they were concerned, these agents could create serious complications from COVID-19. “

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Morrison-Banks attended a virtual MS meeting to see how MS specialists were responding to the pandemic.

“Sharing our mutual interest in how our colleagues across the country have dealt with the challenges posed by COVID-19 led to this national survey,” she said. “We have done our best to collect and disseminate the survey data as early as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic in the hope that the results will be of use to clinicians and people with MS. Our finding that nearly 10% of respondents said the viral pandemic redeployment has led us to wonder how the pandemic has challenged the capacity of MS healthcare workers. “

Morrison-Banks emphasized that people with MS need consistent support from their doctors in order to receive the best possible health care.

“We hope that people with MS will not avoid seeing their doctors because they are afraid of exposure to COVID-19,” she said. “Our survey shows that the vast majority of MS specialists offer at least some telehealth services so that their patients can feel more secure if they continue to be cared for.”

Next, the team plans to examine how patterns of clinical practice in MS care will change as more research data is released in the coming months, including ongoing studies examining how different therapies can affect MS Modify disease that affect outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The research paper is titled “How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Clinical Practice in Multiple Sclerosis: Results of a Nationwide Vendor Survey on Multiple Sclerosis and Related Diseases.”

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More information:
Elizabeth H. Morrison et al. How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Practice: Results of a Nationwide Vendor Survey, Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.msard.2021.102913 Provided by the University of California – Riverside

Quote: Pandemic led to profound changes in clinical practice for multiple sclerosis (2021, April 19), released on April 19, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-04-pandemic-profound-multiple-sclerosis- clinical.html was retrieved

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