Women with MS report communication difficulties with their healthcare providers.
A national survey in the U.S. revealed that 98% of women newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) struggle to discuss important personal concerns with their healthcare team.
The survey was conducted online by Wakefield Research on behalf of Teva Pharmaceutical among 1,000 women diagnosed with MS in the last five years. Survey results were used by Teva and the nonprofit group Can Do MS to develop tools to improve communication between women with MS and healthcare professionals upon a disease diagnosis.
The survey examined the concerns women face after an MS diagnosis, including: ability to care for themselves (reported by 34% of the women surveyed), ability to care for their current or future children (22%), career and work life demands (17%), ability to have children (15%), and personal relationships (13%).
The study also showed that 71% of participants believed talking to their doctor earlier or more openly about those subjects would have helped them in the first six months after their diagnosis.
The main reason women cited for not discussing those concerns with a healthcare professional was the discomfort in doing so.
“Having open and candid conversations with your doctor is a cornerstone of great care and disease management, especially when you have a chronic condition like MS,” Lori Travis, a board-certified neurologist and MS expert practicing at Phoenix Neurological Associates in Arizona, said in a press release.
“The survey findings indicate a strong need for patients and doctors to improve communication and overcome any discomfort there may be around these topics,” Travis added.
Around half of the participants wished they would have covered topics with their healthcare team such as intimacy with a partner (50%), talking about MS with their family (52%), and accepting help from others (51%).
Although there is no evidence to suggest that MS patients are less likely to conceive, many also were concerned about not being able to have children.
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