Background Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common disabling illness of young adults in the UK causing significant social and economical cost. The aim of this study was to ascertain further detail of the characteristics of the MS population in an area of Sussex representing about 25% of the whole region.
Methods The following was obtained from community databases: (a) demographics; (b) employment status; (c) DMT use; (d) walking aid use and (e) utilisation of social care.
Results N=665. The mean (SD) age was 54 (13.2) years; Relapsing-Remitting MS 51%, Secondary Progressive MS 29% and Primary Progressive MS 15%. Of participants <65 years: 56% were unemployed, 44% worked part or full-time; 57.8% of participants required walking aids to mobilise, 23.3% were on a DMT, 35.1% required informal care and 20.2% required external social care. We found associations (at α level=0.05) between unemployment and: SPMS, walking aid use, informal care and external social care.
Discussion This study highlights the needs of people with MS in Sussex. Of note is the impact on employment and the need for walking aids and additional care associated with MS. This knowledge will allow us to better develop services for people with MS with commissioners.