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Factors associated with healthcare utilization in pediatric multiple sclerosis


Background — We assessed whether clinical characteristics and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are independently associated with subsequent hospitalizations and physician visits among children with multiple sclerosis (MS); and whether differences in HRQOL account for differences in physician visits between children with MS, monophasic acquired demyelinating syndromes (ADS) and healthy children.

Methods — We used linked administrative (health) data from Ontario, Canada and data from a prospective cohort study including HRQOL (measured using the PedsQL), age, sex, cognitive function (accuracy and response time as assessed by Penn Neurocognitive Battery), number of relapses, and neurologic abnormalities on examination. We used generalized linear models with generalized estimating equations to examine factors associated with hospitalizations and ambulatory physician visit rates following each HRQOL assessment, adjusting for age, sex, and socioeconomic status.

Results — We included 36 children with MS, 43 with monophasic ADS and 43 healthy controls. Among children with MS, more relapses were associated with increased odds of hospitalization (odds ratio 1.59; 1.18-2.14); better cognitive accuracy scores were associated with fewer physician visits (rate ratio [RR] 0.68; 0.47-0.98). Children with MS had higher rates of physician visits than healthy children (RR 1.44; 1.00-2.08), unlike children with a monophasic ADS, but HRQOL scores did not account for these differences.

Conclusion — Within the MS population, more relapses are associated with increased odds of hospitalization while better cognitive performance is associated with reduced rates of physician visits. Differences in HRQOL do not account for differences in physician visits by children with MS as compared to healthy children.



Marrie RA, O’Mahony J, Maxwell C, Ling V, Till C, Barlow-Krelina E, Yeh EA, Arnold DL, Bar-Or A, Banwell B; Canadian Demyelinating Disease Network. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2020; 38:101511. Epub 2019 Nov 6.

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