Objectives: To measure the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and their caregivers, and to assess which factors can best describe HRQoL. Methods: A cross-sectional multicenter study of nine hospitals enrolled MS patients and their caregivers who attended outpatient clinics consecutively. The instruments used were the SF-36 for patients and the SF-12 and GHQ-12 for caregivers. Classification and regression tree analysis was used to analyze the explanatory factors of HRQoL. Results: A total of 705 patients (mean age 40.4 years, median Expanded Disability Status Scale 2.5, 77.8% with relapsing-remitting MS) and 551 caregivers (mean age 45.4 years) participated in the study. MS patients had significantly lower HRQoL than in the general population (physical SF-36: 39.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 39.1-40.6; mental SF-36: 44.4; 95% CI: 43.5-45.3). Caregivers also presented lower HRQoL than general population, especially in its mental domain (mental SF-12: 46.4; 95% CI: 45.5-47.3). Moreover, according to GHQ-12, 27% of caregivers presented probable psychological distress. Disability and co-morbidity in patients, and co-morbidity and employment status in caregivers, were the most important explanatory factors of their HRQoL. Conclusions: Not only the HRQoL of patients with MS, but also that of their caregivers, is indeed notably affected. Caregivers' HRQoL is close to population of chronic illness even that the patients sample has a mild clinical severity and that caregiving role is a usual task in the study context. © 2009 Aymerich et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.
- Health-related quality of life
- Multiple sclerosis