Telehealth Prevented Pandemic-Related Care Disruptions for MS Patients

People with multiple sclerosis had high use of telehealth during the pandemic

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WEDNESDAY, March 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- During the pandemic, individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) were less likely to report health care disruptions than healthy controls and reported higher use of telehealth services, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Michelle H. Chen, Ph.D., from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues examined health care disruptions and use of telehealth services among people with MS during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey included 70 people with MS and 93 healthy controls.

The researchers found that 38 to 50 percent of patients reported experiencing disruptions in their MS and non-MS medical care, and 20 to 33 percent reported disruptions in their mental health care. These reported disruptions were significantly lower than those reported by healthy controls. Patients with MS also were more likely to utilize telehealth than in-person services, especially for mental health care versus controls. More health care disruptions were seen among individuals with higher degrees of functional limitation; these patients were also more likely to use telehealth services than individuals with lower degrees of functional limitation.

"Due to physical limitations commonly observed in the MS population which may preclude travel, telehealth services should be continued even after resolution of the pandemic, in order to expand access and reduce health care disparities," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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