Cognition significantly impacts the ability of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to participate in social roles and activities, beyond physical disability, and there is a significant association between social roles and activities and multiple individual cognitive domains, according to study results presented at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), held October 25 to 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

Previous studies have reported an association between participation in social roles and activities and severe impairment in mobility in patients with MS. As limited data exist on the association between cognition and social role participation, the researchers completed the current study to determine the relationship between cognition, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) of Patient Determined Disease Steps (PDDS) and Ability to Participate in Social Roles and Activities-Short Form.

The retrospective study included 339 patients (mean age, 50.5 years; 73.5% women) with MS, who completed cognitive testing and PROs, including PDDS and social roles and activities.

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Statistical analysis suggested an association between social roles and activities with several cognitive domain scores, including global cognitive summary score (r =.32), memory (r =.22), executive function (r =.35), attention (r =.34), information processing speed (r =.27), visual spatial (r =.17), verbal function (r =.11), motor skills (r =.31), and cognitive domains impaired (r =.26).

Significant differences were noted between grouped PDDS scores and social roles in several groups: 0-1 vs. 2-3, 0-1 vs. 4-5 and 0-1 vs. 6-7. These findings indicate that cognition impacts social roles and activities as scores begin to decline by the time patients report moderate disability (PDSS group 2-3), not including limitations in walking ability.

“These findings indicate a need for a closer look at cognition in PwMS [patients with MS] in relation to the ability of PwMS to participate in social roles and activities. Severe impairment in walking ability is not the only factor contributing to limited social activity in PwMS,” concluded the researchers.

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 


Bushe M, Zarif M, Golan D, et al. Multiple sclerosis, cognition, and the ability to participate in social roles and activities: disease impact beyond physical disability. Presented at: CMSC 2021 Annual Meeting; October 25-28, 2021; Orlando, Florida. Abstract QOL26.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor