Disparities in the management of multiple sclerosis-related bladder symptoms

Author(s): MarrieRA, Cutter G, Tyry T, Vollmer T, Campagnolo D


Background:Participants enrolled in the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) registry report disability status using Performance Scales (PS), a self-report measure. The bladder/bowel subscale (PSB) of PS has not been validated. It is also unknown whether ethnic or socioeconomic disparities exist in bladder care.

Objective:We aimed to validate the bladder/bowel subscale used by the NARCOMS registry and to describe urologic symptoms, investigations, and treatments received by registry participants.

Methods:In the Fall 2005 update questionnaire, we collected the Bowel Control Scale (BWCS) and Urogenital Distress Inventory-6 (UDI-6) as criterion measures and urologic investigations and treatments. We measured associations between investigations, treatments, and symptoms with clinical and sociodemographic variables using chi(2) tests for categorical variables and Kruskal-Wallis tests for continuous variables, followed by multivariable logistic regression.

Results:Nine thousand six hundred eighty-eight participants completed the survey. For the UDI-6, the median (interquartile range) score was 33.3 (16.7 to 50.0), for the BWCS 3 (1 to 6), and for the PSB 1 (1 to 3). The correlation between the PSB and the UDI-6 was r = 0.67 and between the PSB and the BWCS r = 0.53 (both p < 0.0001). Participants had increased odds of receiving medication for bladder symptoms if they had health insurance (odds ratio [OR] 1.90; 1.07 to 3.35). Participants who were white (OR 1.5; 1.16 to 1.94) and had health insurance (OR 2.0; 1.3 to 3.07) had increased odds of undergoing urologic investigations.

Conclusion:The Performance Scales bladder question has adequate criterion and construct validity in multiple sclerosis (MS). There are ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in bladder management in MS.

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