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Study Encourages Shared Decision-Making When Choosing Treatment for Children With MS

Posted on November 23, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Torrey Kim

  • A recent study found that parents whose children have multiple sclerosis (MS) face challenges when selecting the right disease-modifying therapy (DMT).
  • The study found that just 44 percent of people who chose DMTs for their children were very satisfied with the treatment they selected.
  • These results suggest that health care providers should encourage shared decision-making to boost satisfaction among children with MS and their parents.

Parents of children and adolescents with multiple sclerosis often express dissatisfaction with the disease-modifying therapies they chose for their children, according to a recent study. The report revealed that just 44 percent of parents studied described themselves as “very satisfied” with the DMT they selected for their children with pediatric-onset MS (POMS) — also called pediatric MS.

Researchers found that the more control parents had over the DMT decision-making process, the higher their satisfaction rates. In addition, strong communication with doctors and feeling supported by their children’s health care providers also increased satisfaction.

Multiple sclerosis affects people under the age of 16 in about 3 percent to 5 percent of all MS cases. Those with POMS tend to experience more frequent relapses than adults with MS do, and the same DMTs prescribed to adults may also be recommended for children in some cases.

Children with POMS must rely on their parents to help select the most appropriate DMTs for treatment. However, because no standard approach exists to simplify this process, parents sometimes meet challenges when deciding on the right DMTs for their children.

The study’s authors suggested that health care providers take note of family values and preferences when helping parents choose a DMT for their child. Doctors could also point parents toward online decision-support tools, if necessary.

“There is an opportunity of health care providers to foster shared decision-making practices to improve satisfaction among parents of children and adolescents with POMS,” the authors noted.

Learn more about how MS treatment effectiveness is measured.

Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Torrey Kim is the managing editor at MyHealthTeams and has over a decade of experience writing about medical conditions. Learn more about her here.

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