Comorbidities Poster Presentation

P0504 - The relative contribution of comorbidities on the severity of symptoms in people with Multiple Sclerosis (ID 1064)

  • L. Lo
  • L. Lo
  • B. Taylor
  • I. Van Der Mei
Presentation Number
Presentation Topic



The symptoms reported by people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) vary greatly and are influenced by comorbidities, but our understanding on the contribution of comorbidities on MS symptomatology remains limited.


To examine the dose-response relationship between the number of comorbidities and symptoms severity and to assess the relative contribution of comorbidity groups and individual comorbidities to symptoms severity.


Cross-sectional analysis of data on the presence of 30 comorbidities and the severity of 13 most common symptoms (0-10 scale) of the Australian Multiple Sclerosis Longitudinal Study participants (n=1,223). The dose-response relationship between comorbidities and symptoms severity were assessed using negative binomial regression. The relative contribution of comorbidities to the severity of symptoms was assessed using general dominance analysis.


Higher number of comorbidities was most strongly associated with a higher severity in feelings of anxiety, feelings of depression and pain (ratios of means >0.12 per comorbidity increase). Comorbidities explained between 3.7% (spasticity) and 22.0% (feelings of anxiety) of the total variance of symptoms severity variables. Mental health disorders contributed most strongly to the severity of 6/13 symptoms (feelings of anxiety, feelings of depression, cognitive symptoms, sensory symptoms, fatigue and sexual dysfunction). Musculoskeletal disorders contributed most strongly to the severity of another 6/13 symptoms (pain, walking difficulties, difficulty with balance, bladder problems, bowel problems and spasticity).


Our findings support that early recognition and optimal management of comorbidities, particularly of mental health and musculoskeletal disorders, could have a positive impact on the severity of symptom of people with MS.