Cognitive impairment (CI) is common in multiple sclerosis (MS), including newly diagnosed MS, where it is particularly underrecognised. Determining the presence of CI in the outpatient clinic often relies on patient-reported complaints, with limited time and resources in this setting. Prior studies have shown that self-reported cognition relates poorly to formal neuropsychological testing in the MS population and correlates more with factors such as anxiety, depression and fatigue.
In this study, we assess the prevalence of perceived cognitive dysfunction in newly diagnosed MS patients and compare results with an established MS cohort.
Thirty-nine patients with newly diagnosed MS (12 months following diagnosis) and 24 patients with an established diagnosis (3 years) were included. Similar levels of perceived and objective CI were seen in both groups. There was a strong correlation of perceived cognitive dysfunction with anxiety, mood and fatigue. Perceived cognition did not correlate with objective CI, assessed using the Brief International Cognitive Assessment in MS (BICAMS), in either group.
Study findings add to the literature of perceived cognition in MS, in a newly diagnosed cohort. Findings are consistent with previous research using detailed neuropsychological assessments, confirming the sensitivity of BICAMS, applicable in a routine clinical setting.