The SARS-Cov2 produced a world-wide health-pandemia situation where people must stay home. People with multiple sclerosis (MS) were considered one of high-risk infection population groups due to their immunological status. This situation may increase the risk of emotional unbalance and produced a high uncertainty for MS patients.
To describe medical, demographical and emotional characteristics of a sample from our own MS Unit in a tertiary Hospital in Madrid during lockdown.
In one month we consecutively interviewed 138 MS patients, collecting information about their demographic characteristics (age, gender, years of education, house-company), their MS (physical disability, treatment, years with MS), the SARS-Cov2 (if they had it, someone living with him, the type of lockdown, protection method used outdoors) and their emotional status (previously to SARS-Cov2, compare to before, about their quality of live (QoL), coping strategies, depression and anxiety). We applied standardized questionnaires for QoL, disability related to health condition and emotion.
The majority of participants were woman (69,9%) middle age (42,8) and high education (71% university), with a low disability (EDSS mode=1) after 10,3 years with MS and under treatment (97%). Smokers as frequent comorbidity (23,9%), they lived with company at home (87%) and they followed lockdown completely (61,6%), using mainly face-mask and gel as outdoors protection. Emotional situation during lockdown was described as “worse than before” in 46,4% but some patients reported feeling better (15,2%). Self-reported health was rated as 67,1 over 100 with a high EQ-5D index (M=0,73) and they were not depressed (M=4,8; SD=3,7) neither anxious (M=6,7; SD= 4,3). Infected-MS patients (only 8 cases) showed significantly higher depression (p=0,039) and lower rating in health (p=0,012) in EQ-5D than non-infected patients, using equivalent coping-strategies and rating similar physical independence.
Despite the immunological special status of MS patients, we found that the prevalence of SARS-Cov2 was really low, as stated in the literature. Our patients were quite responsible with lockdown rules and almost half of them confessed that lockdown affected their emotional status to the worse even though they were not infected. Interestingly, those who reported a positive lockdown indicated that not commuting, slowing down and teleworking improved their QoL significantly.