Communicating the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

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In the frame of current treatment options for multiple sclerosis (MS) and recommendations for early intervention, we investigated the practice and attitudes of neurologists towards MS-diagnosis communication in Greece. We constructed and sent out a 22-item questionnaire to neurologists practising in different employment settings and geographic regions in Greece. Overall, 217 (37.41 %) of 580 neurologists replied. The vast majority (94.9 %) informs the patient of a definite MS diagnosis, and 73.6 % do so immediately, but only 41.7 % use the term multiple sclerosis. Furthermore, neurologists strongly agreed that timing of diagnosis communication depends to a large extent on the individual patient's personality (62.5 %) and mental state (52.3 %). Most neurologists (78.7 %) inform relatives about the diagnosis, but only in the presence of the patient. In cases where disclosure was delayed, 59.5 % noted that they did not observe any changes as regards the trust or confidence of their patients towards them. Most neurologists also noted that education level (72 %) and mental state (51.9 %), at the time of disclosure influenced patients who did not fully understand the meaning of their diagnosis. This survey provided some useful new findings with respect to MS diagnosis communication; however, the questions of how and possibly how much to communicate warrant further cross-cultural investigation.

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