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January 1994

Effect of Diagnostic Testing for Multiple Sclerosis on Patient Health Perceptions

Author Affiliations

From St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario (Dr O'Connor); and the University of Toronto (Drs Detsky and Kucharczyk and Ms Tansey).

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(1):46-51. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540130072013

Background and Methods:  We examined the effect on health perceptions of a diagnostic workup in 172 patients with suspected multiple sclerosis (MS) using two questionnnaires (Mishel, Rand Medical Outcome Study) and three visual analogue scales measuring distress. Patients were categorized into "MS," "not MS," or "still uncertain" groups.

Results:  Patients with a definitive diagnosis reported a significant decrease in uncertainty (analysis of variance [ANOVA] P=.0004). The Medical Outcome Study showed aslightlyworsened perceived current health status (ANOVA P=.02) and future health outlook (ANOVAP=.001) in the MS group compared with the other two groups. Distress over physical symptoms decreased in all three groups and anxiety was more likely to decrease than increase even in those with MS. Prognostic uncertainty distress decreased in the not MS group and still uncertain groups, whereas it remained unchanged in the MS group (P=.9156).

Conclusion:  Significant and generally beneficial changes in patient health perceptions are seen associated with a neurologic workup in suspected MS, irrespective of the final diagnosis.

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