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Community services in multiple sclerosis: still a matter of chance
  1. J A Freeman,
  2. A J Thompson
  1. University Department of Clinical Neurology and Neurorehabilitation, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK
  1. Professor A J Thompsona.thompson{at}


OBJECTIVES People with multiple sclerosis often have multiple complex needs that require input from a wide range of services. Many complain that services are inadequate and poorly coordinated. Few studies have been undertaken to support this contention and objective data are scarce. The level of services and home modifications received by people with multiple sclerosis across a broad range of disease severity has been investigated.

METHODS As part of a quality of life study, 150 adults with clinically definite multiple sclerosis were interviewed, using a structured questionnaire, to determine their current use of outpatient and community services and the home modifications in place. Disability, handicap, and emotional status were also measured.

RESULTS Forty five per cent of people did not receive any community services other than contact with their general practitioner. Thirty nine per cent of people with moderate and 12% with severe disability failed to receive community services. For the services received: 17% had contact with a community nurse; 33% with a care attendant or home help; 23% with a physiotherapist, 21% with an occupational therapist, and 10% with a social worker. Fifty eight per cent of people had modifications to their home as a direct result of multiple sclerosis. The relation between level of disability and number of services and adaptations received was moderate (r=0.58 and 0.54 respectively) and the relation between level of services and age (r=0.12), living alone (r=0.16), and emotional status (r=0.10) was negligible.

CONCLUSIONS Despite a shift of emphasis from hospital to community care, and the establishment of standards of care for multiple sclerosis, many people with moderate or severe disability fail to receive assistance. These results provide evidence to support the dissatisfaction felt by people with multiple sclerosis in relation to the services they receive. It raises questions about equitable allocation of resources and highlights the urgent need for a review of community services.

  • community services
  • multiple sclerosis
  • service delivery

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