Published: 29-05-2013 00:00 | Updated: 29-10-2014 16:30

Disability pension prevalence amongst MS patients remains high

Despite the presence of a well-developed healthcare system in Sweden and almost two decades of blockers and inhibitors, a majority of MS patients of working age are on disability pension, according to a new, registry-based study from Karolinska Institutet to be published in time for International MS Day on 29 May.

The study, which is published in the scientific periodical Multiple Sclerosis Journal, is based on data from 9,721 MS patients in Sweden and their sick leave and disability pension during a one-year period. All the patients were below retirement age (65), and were compared with a non-MS control group of 48,605 individuals. The results show that sixty per cent of MS patients of working age had some type of disability pension, and that a low educational level, a relatively high age, being a woman, or being an immigrant were risk factors for disability pension in both groups.

"It's clear from the results, that we need much more scientific knowledge about MS and how, in a short- as well as long-term perspective, to prevent disability and to promote participation in society and working life," says Professor Kristina Alexanderson at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Clinical Neuroscience. "This study confirms previous findings that disability pension is common amongst people with MS."

MS is a chronic inflammatory disease that attacks the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The disease is almost twice as common in women as it is in men, and usually onsets between the ages of 20 and 40 years. In early stages, the disease often occurs in bouts or waves of aggravated symptoms before partly or wholly disappearing. In its advanced stages, the disease often leads to permanent and gradually escalating physical and sometimes cognitive disability.

The study was financed by a grant from pharmaceutical company Biogen Idec, which markets MS drugs, and from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS).


High prevalence of sickness absence and disability pension among multiple sclerosis patients: a nationwide population-based study.
Tinghög P, Hillert J, Kjeldgård L, Wiberg M, Glaser A, Alexanderson K
Mult. Scler. 2013 Dec;19(14):1923-30