Table 1

 Characteristics of the sample

AustriaBelgiumGermanyItalyThe NetherlandsSpainSwedenSwitzerlandUK
Clinics, neurology clinics; MS, multiple sclerosis; NMSS, national multiple sclerosis societies (patient associations).
RecruitmentNMSSClinicsClinicsNMSSClinicsNMSSNMSSNMSSNMSS
Response rate (%)353838315232754519
Sample size (n)1019799279392115491848133911012048
Women (%)70.468.072.265.869.164.273.063.874.5
Living alone (%)28.118.821.112.515.59.727.922.614.3
Mean (SD) age (years)50.0 (12.2)48.1 (12.6)45.1 (11.1)46.146.7 (11.1)44.7 (10.8)53.4 (12.0)52.5 (12.8)51.4 (10.7)
Aged >65 years (%)13.012.417.78.57.65.516.121.410.3
Employed and working (%)29.833.938.641.535.526.234.133.527.3
Employed but on long-term sick leave (%)0.65.82.30.61.93.86.71.20.9
Early retirement due to MS44.532.933.933.342.234.135.633.944.3
Mean (SD) age at diagnosis (years)34.7 (10.4)35.3 (10.8)35.0 (10.2)33.8 (10.3)37.0 (10.2)33.0 (9.9)39.3 (10.7)36.2 (10.6)38.8 (10.0)
Mean (SD) age at first symptoms (years)31.5 (10.2)31.8 (10.7)31.8 (10.0)29.9 (10.0)31.2 (9.9)29.5 (10.0)32.0 (10.7)33.4 (10.9)32.2 (10.4)
Mean (SD) EDSS4.4 (2.4)4.2 (2.4)3.8 (2.3)4.6 (2.3)3.9 (2.2)4.5 (2.3)5.1 (2.2)4.5 (2.4)5.1 (2.0)
Relapse in past 3 months (%)16.821.524.421.529.222.618.016.328.9
Unsure regarding relapse or missing (%)13.016.116.329.327.417.226.714.5