BACKGROUND: Multiple sclerosis (MS) management has changed over time, but changes in health care utilization by MS patients remain understudied. We estimated physician services utilization in the five-year periods before and after MS diagnosis, and over the period 1984-2008.
METHODS: Using administrative data we identified 4092 persons with MS and a matched general population (GPOP) cohort of 21,446 persons. Using general linear models we compared physician visits between the MS and GPOPs for the period 1984-2008, the year of MS diagnosis, and for the five-year periods pre- and post-diagnosis.
RESULTS: From 1984 to 2008, 98% of the MS population averaged ≥1 physician visits/year versus 87% of the GPOP. In 2008, the MS population had 12.9 physician visits/person-year while the GPOP had 8.4 (rate ratio (RR) 1.53; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.52-1.55). Five years pre-MS diagnosis, the MS population had more physician visits than the GPOP (RR 1.15; 95% CI; 1.10-1.21). The number of visits peaked the year of MS diagnosis (19.0), decreasing thereafter, but remaining elevated versus the pre-diagnosis period.
CONCLUSION: The MS population uses more physician services than the GPOP, starting at least five years pre-MS diagnosis. A better understanding of the reasons for these higher utilization rates may ultimately improve outcomes in MS
MSers visit the Doctors a few times more than the General population in the years leading up to the diagnosis of MS. Is this just statistical hogwash?