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Managing multiple sclerosis (MS) should revolve around conversations.
Open, honest, real conversations.

Conversations that delve beyond the scan and the relapses.
And begin to ask questions that really matter.
Like what gets patients out of bed in the morning?
What are their hopes and dreams?
What does next week, next month or the next five years look like?
Because when HCPs own the conversation and ask more questions
About patients’ ambitions, passions, worries even.
Then they can begin to navigate their disease management around their whole lives.
Wherever that may take them.

Start the conversation
Ask the important questions
Address concerns
Consider the practicalities
Own the MS conversation

Start the conversation

When you ask your patient “what’s on the horizon?”, you can navigate their disease management around their plans

The unpredictable and variable nature of MS means it can affect every aspect of your patients’ lives – their work, their family and their social life. It can be difficult, but by finding out more about them and adopting a holistic approach to care you can work together to develop an individualised disease management plan.[1][2]

Besides a clinical evaluation of treatment benefits and risks, patient preferences in terms of safety, administration, lifestyle and overall quality of life should all be considered.[2][3] From a clinical perspective physical function is a key component of disease management, but patients living with MS also place a strong emphasis on emotional wellbeing.[4] While most clinicians agree on the importance of assessing quality of life there can be a lack of confidence when it comes to aligning care to patients’ personal treatment goals.[5]

Fostering positive expectations for the future may enhance a patient’s quality of life[6] – so start the conversation now.

Ask the important questions

When you ask the important questions, you can plan your patient’s MS management around their answers

MS is typically diagnosed in young, active adults in the prime of life – people in their 20s or 30s with the potential for decades of employment ahead of them or who could be making decisions about starting and raising families.[4]

What are your patient’s hopes for the future? Are they thinking of starting or growing their family? Maybe they are chasing a promotion or planning the trip of a lifetime? The treatment preferences of patients living with MS are influenced by multiple factors and evolve over time along with personal and professional changes in their life.[2] The optimal therapeutic approach should allow flexibility to adjust for these changing individual patient needs.[2][7]

Address concerns

Hearing your MS patient’s hopes and fears can help you tailor a disease management plan to reassure them

Patients with MS can be concerned about things like the risk of infections, what might happen if they ever need surgery or vaccinations.[8][9] Discussing these and other aspects that may be important to them, such as family planning, early in the course of treatment helps them to make informed decisions about their choices.[10]

  • Increased prevalence of infections requires careful consideration, balancing risk-benefit for use of different treatments, alongside refinement of further preventive strategies to limit impact on patients[11]
  • If a patient needs surgery they should have a thorough pre-operative evaluation that takes into account the pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease and the effects of any drug treatments used[12]
  • Vaccination decisions need to be highly individualised and take into account factors such as risk of pathogen exposure, place of residence, work and travel habits and other therapies the patient may be taking[13]
  • Family plans may become a consideration for some patients, addressing these concerns as early as possible could allow for a more optimised, multidisciplinary approach which can account for needed treatment interruption or change[10]

Whatever your patient’s concerns, having a good ongoing dialogue could be the first step to addressing them.[3]

Consider the practicalities

When you talk to your patients about how they live their lives, you can plan their MS management to work around their needs

Patient preferences regarding acceptable side effects, frequency and mode of administration and intensity of monitoring should all be considered when making treatment decisions and throughout the course of the disease.[2][7]

It's important that patients don’t feel pathologised by treatment and they may prefer oral treatments or other less frequent modes of administration.[2] Treatment satisfaction in terms of perceived efficacy, side-effects and convenience is one of the main determinants of health-related quality of life (HRQoL).[14] By taking practical patient preferences into account you can help to improve acceptance of and adherence to MS treatments.[7][14]

Own the MS conversation

When your patient opens up about their goals, you can plan their MS management to help them achieve them

Proactive collaboration between patients and healthcare teams is vital to effective MS management.[4]

Patients living with MS want to be informed, educated and have access to multidisciplinary teams to help them deal with the complexities of their disease and find a treatment approach that best fits their everyday needs.[4][15] Maintaining a good, ongoing dialogue with their HCP throughout their disease course is important to patients with MS.[3] Now the growing number of therapies available and variety of mechanisms of action offer real opportunities to individualise treatment, whilst balancing considerations around efficacy, potential side-effects and patient preferences.[16][17]

So let’s get talking.

HCP, healthcare professional; HRQoL, health-related quality of life; MS, multiple sclerosis.

CP-331280 - August 2022