Approximately two-thirds of people with MS report an inability to walk or have difficulty maintaining balance at least twice per week, yet 40% of these patients “rarely or never” mention the problems to their physician, according to a Harris Interactive online survey.

The landmark survey — conducted on behalf of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) and presented this week — revealed that younger people with MS are less likely to initiate a conversation with their doctor about walking difficulties, and only 46% of patients aged 41 or younger who do discuss the topic initiate the conversation. The study comprised more than 1,200 adults in the United States over age 18.

Additional findings for adults who experienced difficulty walking were:

79% who are employed report it has negatively impacted them at work.

60% have had to miss at least one major personal event as a result.

32% report that it has caused them to feel isolated.

“Clearly we need to encourage and empower people with MS to discuss walking impairment with their doctor,” said Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, Vice President for Health Care Delivery and Policy Research at NMSS, “including newly diagnosed patients who may be experiencing only mild problems with walking ability or balance, so that these issues can be addressed.”

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…

  • How can physicians encourage and empower patients to discuss issues with their physician?